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VOL. n. 







330-7 ;^ 






Adventures of Doctor Torralva . . i 

Trial of the earl and countess of Somerset . .15 

La marechale d'Ancre . . . . .43 

Louis GauMdi . . . . . .55 

The Ursulines of Loudun . . . .69 

The Lancashire witches . . . .86 



Witchcraft in England during the earlier part of the 

seventeenth century . ... 1 10 


Witchcraft imder the commonwealth : Matthew Hopkins 

the witch-finder ♦. . 145 


Witchcraft in Germany, in the earlier part of the seven- 
teenth century ... 182 


The witches of Scotland under king James after his ac- 
cession to the English throne . 199 

Confessions of Isohel Gowdie . 224 


The witches of Mohra in Sweden . . 244 

Sir Matthew Hale and chief justice Holt . . 261 


The doings of Satan in New England . . 284 

Conclusion ...... 315 




Spain had not in the sixteenth century ceased to 
be celebrated for its magicians, as we learn from a 
variety of allusions in writers of that and the sub- 
sequent periods. We have seen that it was then 
the country from which magical rings were pro- 
cured, and that it was equally with other lands the 
scene of treasure-hunting and of witchcraft Nor 
was it wanting in great magicians. One of these 
gave considerable celebrity to the village of Bar- 
gota, near Viana, in the diocese of Calahorra. The 
cure of Bargota, who is well known to every reader 
of the glorious romance of Cervantes, astonished 
the territories of Rioja and Navarre by his extra- 
ordinary feats. Among other exploits he was in 
the habit of transporting himself to distant coun- 

VOL. U. - * B 


tries, and returning in an incredibly short space of 
time. In this way he witnessed most of the re- 
markable occurrences of the wars in Italy at th^ 
commencement of the sixteenth century, in which 
Spain had a special interest, and he announced his 
intelligence the same day at Viana and Logroiio. 
He was forewarned of each event by the demon, his 
familiar. The latter told him one day that the 
pope would that night die a violent death. It ap- 
pears that his holiness had an intrigue with a lady 
whose husband held a high office in the papal 
court. The latter was afraid to complain openly, but 
he was none the less eager for revenge, and he joined 
with some desperate ruffians in a plot to take away 
the pope's life. The demon was of course rejoiced 
at the prospect of evil, but his friend the cure de- 
termined to cheat him and save the head of the 
church from the danger which threatened him. 
He pretended to be seized with an eager desire to 
proceed to Rome, that he might hear the rumours 
to which such a remarkable occurrence must give 
rise, and to witness the pope's funeral The desire 
was no sooner expressed than it was gratified. On 
his arrival at the eternal city, the cure hastened to 
the papal palace, forced his way into the presence of 
the sovereign pontiff, and told him the whole parti- 
culars of the plot against his life, and thus defeated 
the designs of the conspirators. After having thus 
outwitted him, the cur6 wished to have no further 
intercourse with Satan ; he made a voluntary confes- 
sion to the pope, and in return for the signal ser- 
vice he had performed, his holiness gave him a full 
absolution. On his return, he was delivered, as a 


matter of form, into the custody of the inquisitors 
of Logrono, but he was acquitted, and restored to 
his liberty. 

There lived at the same thne a magician who 
gained far greater celebrity than the cur6 of Bar- 
gota, and who adopted the same extraordinary 
mode of travelling. This was doctor Eugenic Tor- 
ralva, a physician in the family of the admiral of 
Castille.* Torralva was born at Cuenga, but at the 
age of fifteen he was sent to Rome, where he be- 
came attached to the bishop of Volterra, Francesco 
Soderini, in the quality of a page. He now pur- 
sued with great earnestness the study of philosophy 
and medicine, under dom Cipion and the masters 
Mariana, Avanselo, and Maguera, until he obtained 
the degree of doctor in medicine. Under these 
teachers, Torralva learnt to have doubts of the im- 
mortality of the soul and the divinity of Christ, 
and made great advances in scepticism. About the 
year 1501, when he was already a practitioner in 
medicine at Rome, he formed a very intimate ac- 
quaintance with one master Alfonso, a man who 
had first quitted the Jewish faith for Mahome- 
danism, from which he had been converted to Chris- 
tianity, and he had then finally adopted natural reli- 

* Torralva, im grande hombre, y nigromante, 
Medico, y familiar del almirante. 

Luis Capata, Carlo Famoso*, canto xxviii. 

The authority for the details of the history of this extraor- 
dinary personage is Llorente, who derived his information 
from the original papers relating to his trial, preserved in the 
archives of the inquisition. Part of the story is told rather 
differently in the metrical history of ^apata. 


I < 


gion or deism. This man's discourses overthrew 
the little faith that still remained in Torralva's 
mind, and he became a confirmed sceptic, although 
he appears to have concealed his opinions from the 
world, and perhaps he subsequently renounced 

Among Torralva's friends at Rome was a domi- 
nican monk, called brother Pietro, who told him 
one day that he had in his service " an angel of 
the order of good spirits," named Zeqniel, who was 
SO powerful in the knowledge of the future and of 
hidden things that he was without his equal in the 
spiritual world, and of such a peculiar temper that, 
while other spirits made bargains with their em- < 

ployers before they would give them their services, 
Zequiel was so disinterested that he despised all 
considerations of this kind, and served only tn 
friendship those who placed their confidence in him 
and deserved his attachment. The least attempt at 
restraint, brother Pietro said, would drive him away 
for ever. 

Torralva's curiosity was excited, and when bro- 
ther Pietro generously proposed to resign the fami- 
liar spirit to his friend, the offer was eagerly ac- 
cepted. It appears that the person most concerned 
in this transaction made no objection to the change 
of masters, and at the summons of brother Pietro, 
Zequiel made his appearance, in the form of a fair 
young man, with light hair, and dressed in a flesh- 
coloured habit and black surtout. He addressed 
himself to Torralva, and said, " I will be yours as 
long as you live, and will follow you wherever you 
are obliged to go.'' From this time Zequiel ap- 



peared to Torralva at every change of the moon, 
and as often as the physician wanted his services, 
which was generally for the purpose of transporting 
him in a short space of time to distant places. In 
these interviews, the spirit took sometimes the 
semblance of a traveller, and sometimes that of a 
hermit. In his intercourse with Torralva, he said 
nothing contrary to Christianity, but accompanied 
him to church, and never counselled him to evil ; 
from which circumstances the physician concluded 
that his familiar was a good angeL He always con- 
versed in the Latin or Italian languages. 

Rome had now become to Torralva a second 
country ; but about the year 1602 he went to 
Spain, and subsequently he travelled through most 
parts of Italy, until he again fixed himself at Rome, 
under the protection of his old patron the bishop of 
Volterra, who had been made a cardinal on the 
Slst of May, 1503. With this introduction he soon 
obtained the favour of others of. the cardinals, and 
rose to high repute for his skill in medicine. Hav- 
ing met at this time with some books on chiro- 
mancy, he became an eager student in that art, in 
the knowledge of which he subsequently surpassed 
most of his contemporaries. Torralva owed his 
medical knowledge partly to his familiar, who 
taught him the secret virtues of many plants, with 
which other physicians were not acquainted ; and 
when the practitioner took exorbitant fees, Zequiel 
rebuked him, telling him that, since he had re- 
ceived his knowledge for nothing, he ought to im- 
part it gratuitously. And when on several occa- 
sions Torralva was in want of money, he found a 


supply in his chamber, which he believed was fur- 
nished him by the good spirit, who, however, would 
never acknowledge that he was the secret bene- 
factor who had relieved him from his embarras- 

Torralva returned to Spain in 1510, and lived for 
some time at the court of Ferdinand the Catholic. 
One day Zequiel, whose informations were usually 
of a political character, told him that the king 
would soon receive disagreeable news. Torralva 
immediately communicated this piece of informa- 
tion to Ximenes de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo, 
(who was subsequently raised to the dignity of car- 
dinal, and made inquisitor general of Spain,) and the 
grand captain Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova. The 
same day a courier arrived with dispatches from 
Africa, containing intelligence of the ill success of 
the expedition against the Moors, and of the death 
of don Garcia de Toledo, son of the duke of Alva, 
who commanded it 

Torralva seems to have made no seci*et of his in- 
tercourse with Zequiel. He had received his fami- 
liar from a monk, and the spirit is said to have 
shown himself to the cardinal of Volterra at the 
physician's wish; the latter now did not hesi- 
tate to acquaint the archbishop of Toledo and the 
grand captain how he came by his early intelli- 
gence. The archbishop earnestly desired to be per- 
mitted to have the same privilege as the Italian 
cardinal, and Torralva wished to gratify him, but 
Zequiel refused, though he softened his refusal by 
telling him to inform the archbishop that he would 
one day be a king, a prophecy which was believed 



to be fulfilled when he was made absolute governor 
of Spain and the Indies. 

The physician was frequently favoured with reve- 
lations of this kind. On one occasion, when Tor- 
ralva was at Rome, Zequiel told him that his friend, 
Pietro Margano, would lose his life if he went out of 
th« city that day. He was not able to see him in 
order to warn him of his danger, and Pietro went 
out of Rome and was assassinated. Zequiel told 
him on another occasion that the cardinal of 
Sienna would end his life in a tragical manner, 
which was verified in 1517, after the judgment of 
pope Leo X. against him. Torralva re-established 
himself in Rome in 1613, and soon after his arrival 
he had a great desire to see his intimate friend 
Thomas de Becara, who was then at Venice ; upon 
which Zequiel took him thither and back in so 
short a space of time that his absence was not per- 
ceived by his^ friends in Rome. 

It was not long before he again returned to Spain, 
where, about the year 1516, the cardinal of Santa 
Cruz, don Bernardino de Carbajal, consulted him on 
a subject of some importance. A Spanish lady 
named Rosales had complained to don Bernardino 
that her nights were disturbed by a phantom which 
appeared in the form of a murdered man. The car- 
dinal had sent his physician. Dr. Morales, who 
watched at night with the lady, but saw no appari- 
tion, although she gave him notice of its appear- 
ance, and pointed out the place where it stood. 
Don Bernardino hoped to know more of the matter 
by the means of Torralva, and he requested him to 
go with the physician Morales to pass the night in 


the lady's house. They went together, and an hour 
after midnight they heard the lady's cry of alarm, 
and went into her room, where, as before. Morales 
saw nothing. But Torralva, who was better ac- 
quainted with the spiritual world, perceived a figure 
resembling a dead man, behind which appeared an- 
other apparition in the form of a woman. He asked 
with a firm voice, " What dost thou seek here V to 
which the apparition repUed, "A treasure," and im- 
mediately disappeared. Torralva consulted Zequiel 
on this subject, and was informed that there waa 
buried under the house the corpse of a man who had 
been stabbed to death with a poignard. 

Torralva was soon at Rome again, and among his 
more intimate friends there w;as don Diego de 
Zuniga, a relative of the duke of Bejar, and brother 
to don Antonio, grand prior of the order of St. John 
in Castile. In 1519, the two friends returned to 
Spain together. On their way, at Barcelonetta near 
Turin, while they were walking and conversing with 
the secretary, Azevedo, (who had been adjutant- 
general of the Spanish armies in Italy and Savoy,) 
Azevedo and Zuiiiga thought they saw something 
indefinable pass by Torralva's side. He told them 
it was his angel Zequiel, who had approached him 
to whisper in his ear. Zuniga had a great desire to 
see Zequiel, but Torralva could not prevail with the 
latter to show himself At Barcelona, Torralva 
saw in the house of the canon. Juan Grarcia, a book 
of chiromancy, and in the margin of one of the 
leaves was written a magical process to enable a 
person to gain money at play. Zuniga, who appears 
to have been a man of no very exalted morality. 

torealva's voyage to bomb. 9 

wished to make himself master of this art, and Tor- 
ralva copied the characters, and told his friend that he 
must write them with his own hand on paper, using 
for ink the blood of a bat, and that the writing 
must be performed on a Wednesday, because that 
day was dedicated to Mercury. This charm he was 
to wear on his person when at play. 

In 1520, Torralva went again to Rome. Being 
at Valladolid, he told Diego de Zuniga of his inten- 
tions, informing him that he had the means of tra- 
velling there with extraordinary rapidity, that he 
had but to place himself astride on a stick, and he 
was carried through the air, guided by a cloud of 
fire. On his arrival at Rome, he saw the cardinal 
of Volterra and the grand prior of the order of St. 
John, who were very earnest with him that he 
should give them his familiar spirit Torralva en- 
treated Zequiel to comply with their wish, but in 
vain. In 1525, Zequiel recommended him to return 
to Spain, assuring him that he would obtain the place 
of physician to the infanta Eleanora, queen dowager 
of Portugal, and subsequently consort of Franyois I. 
of France. Torralva obeyed the suggestion of his 
monitor, and obtained the promised appointment 

It was after his return to Spain, and before he 
obtained this appointment, that a circumstance oc- 
curred which added greatly to Torralva's celebrity. 
On the evening of the fifth of May, of the year last- 
mentioned, (1525,) the physician received a visit 
from Zequiel, who told him that Rome would be 
taken next day by the troops of the emperor,* and 

* ^apata, who gives an account of this voyage according to 
the popular tradition, makes Torralva leave the admiral's town 

B 5 


Torralva desired to be taken to Rome to see this 
important event. They left Valladolid together at 
eleven o'clock at night, on foot, as if to take a walk ; 
but at a short distance from the town Zequiel gave 
his .companion a stick full of knots, and said, " Shut 
your eyes, and fear nothing ; take this in your hand, 
and no harm will happen to you/' After a little 
time, at Zequiel's bidding, Torralva opened his eyes, 
and he found himself so near the sea that he could 
have touched the water with his hand ; and the black 
cloud which had previously enveloped him gave place 
immediately to so bright a Ught, that he was afraid 

of Medina de Bioseco instead of Valladolid. He says that Tor- 
ralva was sitting pensive and sad in his chamber contemplating 
the sky, when Zequiel appeared to him, who is described 
thus : — 

" Zaqueil un familiar, qu'en la figura 
De un viejo sano ant'el se aparescia, 
Con un bordon, y en cuerpo en vestidura 
Blanca que hasta el suelo le cubria : 
Y con la barba blanca a la cintura, 
Gomo assi tan pensoso estar le via, 
En la cerrada pie^a en este instante 
Se aparescio a Torralva nigromante." 

Gablo Famoso, cant. xxx. 

Zequiel asked him why he was pensive, to which he replied 
that he was puzzled with the stars. The familiar then informed 
him that the constable of Bourbon was before Eome, which 
would b© taken next day. 

" Havra sangre y crueldad en abundancia, 
Be. que yo espero haver muy grand ganahcia." 

^apata imagined that the familiar might be a demon, and 
that he would naturally delight in the horrors which attended 
the sack of Bome. 


of being burnt Zequiel saw his alarm, and re* 
buked him for it in a familiar phrase, " No temas, 
bestia fiera r (fear nothing, stupid fellow.) Tor- 
ralva then shut his eyes again, and after awhile 
felt himself on the solid ground, and heard his 
companion bid him open his eyes, and see if he 
knew where he was. He recognised the city of 
Rome* spread out before him, and knew that he was 
standing on the tower of Nona. The clock of the 
castle of St Angelo was just striking the hour of 
midnight, so that they had been exactly one hour 
on their journey. The city was then shrouded in 
night, and they waited till daybreak, when they 
passed through the different parts of the city, and 
witnessed the events of that terrible day, the attack 
of the besiegers, the death of the constable of 
Bourbon, the flight of the pope into- the castle of 
St. Angelo, the terror and slaughter of the citizens, 
the pollution of the churches, and the wild riot of 
the conquerors. It took them an hour and a half 
to return to Valladolid, and when Zequiel left the 
doctor there, he said to him, " In future you will 
believe all I tell you." Torralva immediately made 
public all he had seen during this extraordinary 
excursion, and when in due course of time news 
arrived of the capture and sack of Rome, the court 
of Spain was filled with astonishment^ 

Torralva's fame as a magician was now in every- 
body's mouth, and it seems that men of high rank, 
both in church and state, had been cognizant of, 
if not accomplices in, his practices of forbidden arts. 
It was at length by one of his intimate friends that 
he was denounced to the inquisitors, who would 


perhaps have taken no notice of him had they not 
been urged to the pursuit Diego de Zuniga, the 
same who had been so long a confidant in his in* 
tercourse with the familiar, and who had even 
benefited by his arts to profit at the gambling- 
table, had suddenly become fanatical and super- 
stitious. Not satisfied with repentance for his own 
sins, Zuniga denounced Torralva to the inquisition 
of Cuenja, and when the doctor visited that city at 
the beginning of the year 1 528, he was arrested and 
thrown into prison. He immediately confessed all 
his dealings with Zequiel, whom he persisted in re- 
garding as a good angel, and made no less than 
eight several written declarations, the same in 
effect, but contradicting each other in some of the 
particulars. As these seem to have been thought 
not to be entirely satisfactory, Torralva was put to 
the torture, the result of which was that he de- 
clared himself convinced that Zequiel was a demon. 
He said that his familiar had warned him that a 
danger hung over him if he went to Cuen9a at that 
time, but that he had disregarded the admonition. 

The inquisitors now changed their severity to in- 
dulgence, and on the 6th of March, 1629, they sus- 
pended Torralva's process for a year. But before 
the expiration of that period, a new accuser pre- 
sented himself, and deposed to his disputes at Rome 
in his younger days on the immortality of the soul 
and the divinity of Jesus Christ. This placed the 
question in a new light, and Torralva underwent 
examination again on the 29th of January, 1530, 
when he made a new declaration on the subject of 
his early education and opinions. The case now 


assumed a still more serious character, and the in* 
quisitors of Cuenga having communicated with the 
supreme council of the inqidsition in Spain, re- 
ceived directions to appoint some pious and learned 
persons to labour for the conversion of the accused, 
and to persuade him to renounce, sincerely and 
absolutely, the science of chiromancy, his inter- 
course with Zequiel, and all treaties he might have 
entered into with the evil one, for the imburthening 
of his conscience and the salvation of his souL The 
inquisitors intrusted this task to brother Augustino 
Barragan, prior of the convent of Dominicans at 
Cuen^a, and Diego Manriques, a canon of the cathe- 
dral, and these men laboured with so much zeal and 
eflfect„that Torralva agreed to do everything they 
wished, except that he would not undertake to 
see Zequiel no more. For it appears that the fami- 
liar remained so far faithful to his original promise, 
that he continued to visit Torralva in the prison of 
the inquisition, and the doctor represented to his 
converters that he was obliged to see him whether 
he would or not The inquisitors themselves were 
so credulous,' that they requested their prisoner to 
inquire of Zequiel what was his opinion of the 
doctrines of Luther and Erasmus ; and they were 
gratified beyond measure when they learnt that he 
condemned the two reformers, with this difference 
only, that he considered Luther to be a bad man, 
while he represented Erasmus as his superior in 
cunning and cleverness. Perhaps this piece of in- 
formation brought Torralva a little into favour, and 
his treatment was not so rigorous as that experi- 
enced by many at the hands of the same prosecutors. 


On the 6th of March, 1531, he was condemned to 
make the general ordinary abjuration of heresies, 
to undergo the punishment of imprisonment and 
the san benito as long as it might please the inqui- 
sitor-general, to undertake to have no further com- 
munication with the spirit Zequiel, and never to 
lend an ear to any of his proposals. 

Although Torralva had been betrayed by one 
friend, he had others who remained faithful to him- 
Before his celebrated journey to Rome in 1525, he 
had been appointed to the office of physician to the 
family of the admiral of Castile, don Frederico En- 
riquez, which he still held at the time of his arrest. 
The admiral had always proved himself a warm 
friend and a staunch protector ; he did not desert 
him in his trials, and it was no doubt to his inflfu- 
ential interference that Torralva owed what indul- 
gence was shown to him during his imprisonment. 
We have every reason to believe that it was through 
his protection also that soon after the process was 
ended, the inquisitor-general gave Torralva his par- 
don, and set him at liberty, in consequence, as it 
was pretended, of his sincere repentance. The ad- 
miral received the magician again as his physician, 
and continued his favour and protection to him. 

Such is the history, taken entirely from his own 
declarations and confessions, of a magician whose 
fame has been immortalised in Don Quixote. 




The Story of doctor Torralva has drawn us a 
little from the chronological order of our chapters. 
The wholesale persecution of the witches of La- 
bourd in the French Basque territory, and the trial 
of those of Zugarramurdi, on the Spanish side of the 
frontier, give us a fair picture of the prevalence and 
intensity of the belief in sorcery among all the 
nations of Europe during the earlier years of the 
seventeenth century. We cannot be surprised if, 
under these circumstances, the charge was often 
made a weapon of resentment and revenge, not 
only in the lowest, but sometimes even in the 
highest class of society, and if even people of rank 
and education were credulous enough to have re- 
course to the assistance of the sorcerer and witch. 
We will proceed to take a few examples of each of 
these cases, and our own country at this period 
furnishes us with one of the most extraordinary, 
and at the same time itiysterious, tragedies that are 
to be found in our annals. • 



No period of English history offers us so much 
that is dark and repugnant as the reign of James 
I. The private history of that monarch's court is 
very imperfectly known, and the few revelations 
that have been made are calculated to convince us 
that in this case " ignorance is bliss.'' Perhaps of all 
the mysterious affairs of this reign, none present 
more difficulties than the history of James's first 
great favourite, Robert Carr. 

This man was of a respectable Scottish family, 
but he had received a mean education, and the 
merits which gained him the royal favour were a 
" comely personage " and a taste in dress. The 
king's fondness for him was shown openly in an 
undignified manner; for, to use the words of a 
nobleman who was in constant attendance at king 
James's court, the monarch " would lean on his 
arm, pinch his cheek, smooth his ruffled garment, 
and, when directing discourse to others, neverthe- 
less gaze on him." Such was one of the principal 
heroes of the tragedy now to be related, but the 
person who appears most active in it was a lady. 

The lady Frances Howard, daughter of Thomas,, 
earl of Suffolk, and great niece of Henry Howard, 
earl of Northampton and lord high treasurer of 
England, had been married in 1606 to Robert, earl 
of Essex, who was in after life distinguished as- 
the parliamentary leader. It was a marriage of 
family policy, and at the time it took place the 
bride was thirteen years of age and the bridegroom 
only fourteen. The lady grew up to be one of the 
most dissolute of the ladies of James's court — 
which was not remarkable for its morality — ^and 


according to the court scandal of the day, she 
had intrigued with prince Henry, and had " been 
cast off by him " on account of her notorious infi- 
delity. At length the countess of Essex became 
passionately enamoured of the king's favourite, who 
was raised to the peerage in the spring of 1611, 
under the title of viscount Rochester. 

It appears that there were at the same time two 
separate intrigues in progress to bring together lord 
Rochester and the countess of Essex ; one had its 
foundation in interest alone, and the other was the 
offspring of ambition and love. 

The old courtiers were alarmed at the power of 
the young favourite, and were anxious to secure 
themselves by obtaining his favour, and none more 
SO than the aged treasurer Henry earl of North- 
ampton. At a time when the commons of England 
were preparing to assert their dignity and rights, a 
great part of the nobility seem to have sunk into a 
degree of baseness which it is not easy to imagine, 
and there appears but too much reason for believ- 
ing that the earl of Northampton did not shrink 
from using the prostitution of his kinswoman to 
secure his influence at court It was probably in 
that ancient and sad-looking mansion which still 
looks over the commencement of the Strand, and 
was then the earl's residence, and known as North- 
ampton (now Northumberland) house, that the plot 
was managed which eventually led to the ill-fated 
marriage of which I am going to teU the con- 
sequences. The plotters are said to have employed in 
this intrigue a follower of the new favourite, 
named Copinger^ at whose house the meetings be- 


tween lord Rochester and lady Essex sometimes took 

The lady, however, was too ardent in her passion 
to wait the effect of this intrigue, or perhaps she 
was not fully acquainted with the designs of her 
relatives. She made her confidante of Mrs. Anne 
Turner, the widow of a physician of respectability, a 
woman not deficient in beauty, and who was at this 
time the mistress of sir Arthur Mainwaring, an 
attendant on the prince. With this worthy com- 
panion in her evil doings, the countess repaired to 
Dr. Simon Foreman, the magician who, as has 
been stated, Was living at Lambeth, and with 
whom Mrs. Turner appears to have been al- 
ready acquainted It was soon agreed between 
them that Foreman should by his magic bewitch 
the lord Rochester, and so turn his affections that 
they should be irrevocably fixed on lady Essex, and 
he was in the same way to influence sir Arthur 
Mainwaring towards Mrs. Turner. The intercourse 
between the ladies and the conjurer became now 
frequent, and he used all his skill in charms ^nd 
images to effect their desire. At a subsequent 
period Foreman's wife deposed in court " that Mrs. 
Turner and her husband would sometimes be locked 
upp in his studye for three or four howres toge- 
ther;'' and the countess became so intimate that 
she spoke of Foreman as her " sweet father." 

The result of all these intrigues was that lord 
Rochester became violently enamoured of the 
countess, and they formed an intimacy which soon 
assumed a criminal character. Their stolen meet- 
ings were held at Mrs. Turner s house in Pater- 


noster-row, at Copinger's, and elsewhere, and be- 
came a matter of public scandal But in the mean- 
while a new obstacle had risen in the way of their 
criminal enjoyments. The young earl of Essex, 
who had been separated from his wife immediately 
after their premature marriage, returned from the 
wars abroad to claim his rights at home. The lady 
Essex had scarcely known her husband, she could 
have no love towards him, and she was unwilling 
to relinquish her attachments and courtly tastes to 
live in private with a nobleman who never seems 
to have been much of a courtier. It required the 
earnest expostulations of her father to bring the 
young couple together, and when tjie earl of Essex, 
disturbed at the reports which soon reached him of 
her redeiit mode of life, took her to his house at 
Chartley, her coldness towards her lord was turned 
into intense hatred. 

Mrs. Turner was again sent to Foreman, who un- 
dertook to bewitch the earl of Essex in the con- 
trary sense to that in which he had enchanted the 
viscount Rochester. New images were made, and 
new charms invented, and the doctor furnished 
powders to be administered, and washes to bathe 
his linen, which were to render the earl of Essex 
incapable of loving his lady. The latter had been 
convinced that Foreman's charms had procured her 
the affection of her lover, and she was now disap- 
pointed at finding them ineffectual against her 
husband. Letters addressed by her at this time to 
Mrs. Turner and Dr. Foreman were produced at a 
later period, in which she complained that " my 
lord is very well as ever he was," and expressed 


her aversion to him and her wish to be rid of 

In the midst of these dark transactions a new 
circumstance happened which threatened to impede 
their intrigues. This was the sudden death of their 
grand agent, doctor Foreman, who, to use the words 
of a manuscript report of the subsequent trial, " a 
little before his death desired he might be buryed 
very deepe in the ground, or else (saith hee) I shall 
feare you alL" * Foreman himself appears to have 
been apprehensive of the consequences of his deal- 
ings in this affair, for Lilly, who was acquainted 
with his widow, tells us that " he professed to her 
there would be much trouble about Carr and the 
countess of Essex, who frequently resorted unto 
him, and from whose company he would sometimes 
lock himself in his study a whole day/' Mrs. Fore- 

* Lilly received from Foreman's widow the following sin- 
gular account of his sudden death. *' The Sunday night be- 
fore he died, his wife and he being at supper in their garden- 
house, she being pleasant, told him, that she had been 
informed he could resolve whether man or wife should die 
first; * Whether shall J,' quoth she, 'biuy you or no?* * Oh, 
Trunco,' for so he called her, ' thou shalt bury me, but thou 
wilt much repent it.' * Yea, but how long first?' * I shall 
die,' said he, * ere Thursday night' Monday came, all was 
well. Tuesday came, he not sick. Wednesday came, and 
still he was well; with which his impertinent wife did much 
twit him in his teeth. Thiursday came, and dinner was ended, 
he very well : he went down to the water side, and took a pair 
of oars to go to some buildings he was in hand with in Pud- 
dle-dock. Being in the middle of the Thames, he presently 
fell down, only saying, * An impost, an impost,' and so died. 
A most sad storm of wind immediately following .'* 


LADY Essex's divorce. 21 

man, when afterwards examined in court, deposed, 
" that Mrs. Turner came to her house immediatelye 
after her husband's death, and did demaund cer- 
taine pictures, which were in her husband's studdy, 
namely, one picture in waxe, very sumptuously 
apparrelled in silke and sattin, as alsoe another 
sitting in forme of a nak^d woman, spreading and 
layinge forthe her haire in a glasse, which Mrs. 
Turner did confidentlye affirme to be in a boxe, 
and that she knewe in what part of the roome in 
the studye they were." Foreman is reported to 
have said, in reply to the expostulations of the 
countess, that -the devil, as he had learnt, had no 
power over the person of the earl of Essex ; yet she 
persisted in her designs, and after Foreman's death, 
another conjurer was employed, one doctor Lavoire 
or Savory, as the name is differently written in 
different manuscripts. 

But a more powerful agent than the conjurers 
was now brought in. We have no means of ascer- 
taining at what time king James was first made 
acquainted with the amouix>us intrigues of his 
favourite, but, as the latter was as anxious to get 
the lady Essex away from her husband as she 
was to leave him, the English Solomon resolved 
that both shoTild be gratified. The countess was 
instructed to bring against the earl of Essex a 
charge of conjugal incapacity, a commission of reve- 
rend prelates of the church was appointed to sit in 
judgment, over whom the king presided in person, 
and a jury of matrons was found to give their opi- 
nion that the lady Essex was a maiden. James 
seems to have gloated over this revolting process 


with the same degree of pleasure which he had 
derived from the examination of the witches in 
Edinborough ; the earl of Essex appears to have 
made no opposition, and the king pressed with in- 
decent eagerness a judgment of divorce. This being 
effected, the king, with no less indecency, hastened 
a marriage between his favourite and the lady, with 
whose character he could not have been unac- 
quainted, and heaped new honours upon the former 
for this occasion. On the third of November, 16 J 3, 
Robert Carr, viscount Rochester, was elevated to 
the rank and title of earl of Somerset ; and on St 
Stephen^s day, (December 26,) king James gave the 
lady to his minion at the altar, and the marriage 
was celebrated by the court with unusual splen- 

There was one circumstance connected with this 
guilty marriage, or at least contemporaneous with 
the intrigues which have just been described, that 
became in the sequel the foundation of events still 
more extraordinaxy. 

Sir Thomas Overbury, who is known by literary 
compositions of some merit, was almost as much 
the favourite of Carr in the earlier period of his 
fortunes, as Carr was of the king ; and although 
represented in the common published accounts as a 
man of honourable character, there appears to be 
not wanting grounds for suspecting that he was a 
fit companion for the monarch and his favourite. 
It appears from documents afterwards brought for- 
ward, that sir Thomas Overbury exercised for seve- 
ral years the extraordinary vocation of imparting 
ideas and language to the earl of Somerset, as to a 


puppet, who, by means of his secret suggestions, 
moved the inclinations of king James which way 
he would, governed councils, and fascinated the 
beauties of the court ; and that he crowned his 
various achievements by writing love-letters in 
his patron's name, through which lady Essex was 
led to indulge a guilty passion. Yet strangely 
enough, when his patron resolved to marry his 
mistress, and was supported in that resolution by 
the open approval and encouragement of his sove- 
reign, Overbury is represented as putting himself 
forward indiscreetly to oppose the marriage, and as 
thus drawing upon himself the hatred of the fa- 
vourite and his mistress. It was determined by 
some means or other to get Overbury out of the 
way ; the king, at the instigation (as it is said) of 
Somerset and the earl of Northampton, offered to 
send him ambassador to Russia, and when (also, 
it is said, at Somerset's suggestion) he refused the 
employment, James, in a fit of anger, ordered him 
to be committed close prisoner to the tower. 
Here Overbury lingered in a sickly state of body 
till the 19th of October, 1613, when he died. 

For a while after the marriage, the king's attach- 
ment to the earl of Somerset seemed to increase 
from day to day, and honours and riches were 
shpwered thick upon him, but at length it was per- 
ceived that James began to be tired of his fa- 
vourite, and his enemies seized the opportunity to 
conspire his ruin. Among these, the archbishop of 
Canterbury, Abbot, with whom Somerset had quar- 
relled, was one of the most active, and he has left 
us an account of the way in which these intrigues 


were carried on. " We could have no way so 
good/' says the archbishop, " to effectuate that 
which was the common desire, as to bring in ano- 
ther in his room ; one nail, the proverb is, being to 
be driven out by another. It was now observed 
that the king began to cast his eye upon George 
Villiers, who was then cup-bearer, and seemed a 
modest and courteous youth. But king James had 
a fashion, that he would never admit any to near- 
ness about himself, but such a one as the queen 
should commend to him, and make some suit in 
that behalf, in order that, if the queen afterwards, 
being ill-treated, should complain of this dear one. 
he might make his answer, ' It is come of yourself, | 

for you were the party that commended him unto 
me/ Our old master took delight in things of this 
nature/' The queen hated Somerset, and after a 
good deal of communications aiid intriguing, she 
consented to act the part required ; and Villiers 
was appointed a gentleman of the chamber, in 
spite of the opposition of the old favourite, who 
was made to feel more and more that he was losing 
favour with the king. Still the king continued 
outwardly to show him the same attention as be- 
fore, and even increased his honours, by which he 
was lulled into security, while a deep plot was laid 
for his final overthrow, in which James, daily more 
attached to the new object, appears to have con- 

All who looked forward for advancemeiit through 
the new favourite were zealous in persecuting the 
old one, and among these were sir Ralph Winwood, 
one of the secretaries of state and a creature of 

Somerset's fall. 25 

Villiers, and sir Francis Bacon, to whom Villiers 
held out the prospect of the chancellorship of Eng- 
land. The first of these got up the accusation on 
which Somerset was tried, and the second was 
employed to conduct the prosecution. It was stated 
that sir Thomas Overbury had been poisoned in 
the tower by agents of the countess and earl of 
Somerset, that his body had been hastily and pri- 
vately buried without having been shown even to 
his friends, and that Somerset's power over the 
king had been used to hush up and conceal the 
crima Several inferior agents were committed to 
prison, and by the king's orders a warrant was 
made to arrest the earl of Somerset, which is said 
to have been executed after he left the king's pre- 
sence at Royston. In the last scene of this court 
drama, the king exhibited the most heartless dupli- 
city. The following account is given by an eye-wit- 
ness, sir Anthony Weldon. 

" The king with this took his farewell for a time 
of London, and was accompanied with Somerset to 
Royston, where no sooner he brought him, but the 
earl instantly took his leave, little imagining what 
viper lay among the herbs. Nor must I forget to 
let you know how perfect the king was in the art of 
dissimulation, or, to give it his own phrase, king- 
craft. The earle of Somerset never parted from him 
with more seeming affection than at this time, when 
he knew Somerset should never see him more ; and 
had you seen that seeming affection, (as the author 
himselfe did,) you would rather have believed he was 
in his rising than setting. The earle, when he 



kissed his hand, the king hung about his neck, 
slabbering his cheeks, saying, 

" * For God's sake, when shall I see thee againe ? 
On my soule, I shall neither eat nor sleep until you 
come again V 

" The earle told him on Monday, (this being on 
the Friday)— 

" ' For God's sake, let me,' said the king, ' shall 
I, shall I V then lolled about his neck. * Then for 
God's sake, give thy lady this kiss for me/ 

" In the same manner, at the stayres* head, at 
the middle of the stayres, and at the stayres' foot. 
The earl was now in his coach when the king 
used these very words, (in the hearing of four ser- 
vants, of whom one was Somerset's great creature, 
and of the bed-chamber, who reported it instantly to 
the author of this history), ' I shall never see hid 
face more/ " 

The earl was placed under arrest on his return to 
London, but instead of proceeding to an examina- 
tion of the two principal offenders, the minor actors 
in the tragedy were first brought to triaL The ob- 
ject in view from the beginning appears to have 
been to bring forward as little evidence as possible, 
but to use every means of inducing the various per- 
sons accused to confess themselves guilty and accuse 
their supposed employers. Although at first some 
of them obstinately denied any knowledge of the 
crime imputed to them, they all ended by confessing 
whatever was required, influenced either by hope or 
fear, and when their confessions had been obtained, 
they were hurried to the gallows with as little delay 



as possible. We can hardly doubt, from the evi- 
dence, that the countess of Somerset had been 
anxious for Overbury's death, and that she had 
suborned persons to poison him, but it certainly did 
not appear by the evidence that he had been poi- 
srfned by them. 

During these trials the public excitement was so 
great that Westminster-hall was intensely crowded, 
and immense sums were given for places on the 
scaflfolding erected for the occasion. This was espe- 
cially the case on the 7th of November, 1615,the 
day when Mrs. Turner was arraigned, and a feel- 
ing of superstitious fear seized upon the assemblage 
when on that occasion the instruments of Foreman's 
conjurations were exposed to view. It appears that 
when Mrs. Turner was arrested, she sent her maid 
in haste to Foreman's widow, to warn her that the 
privy council would probably give orders to search 
her house, and to urge her to bum any of her hus- 
band's papers that were calculated to compromise 
her. Mrs. Foreman saw that the trouble which her 
husband foretold had arrived, and she followed the 
suggestion thus conveyed to her, bu:t a few docu- 
ments were preserved that were now brought into 
court, and among these were the two guilty letters 
addressed by lady Essex from Chartley to Mrs. 
Turner and Foreman, which, according to some ac- 
counts, had been found in the conjuror's pockets 
after his sudden death. The various articles which 
were seized in Foreman's house related to the at- 
tempts to enchant the earls of Somerset and Essex, 
and not to the murder of Overbury. " There was 
shewed in court certeine pictures of a man and a 

c 2 


woman made in lead, and also a mould of brasse 
wherein they were cast, a blacke scarfe alsoe full of 
white crosses, which Mrs. Turner had in her cus- 
todie \' in addition to which there were " inchanted 
paps and other pictures/^ These might be innocent 
enough, if they had not been followed by a parCel 
of Foreman's written charms and conjurations. 
" In some of these parchments,'' says the contempo- 
rary report of the trial in the manuscript from which 
we are quoting, " the devill had particular names, 
who were conjured to torment the lord Somersett 
and sir Arthur Mannering, if theirelovesshovli not 
contynue, the one to the countesse, the other to 
Mrs. Turner." The horror caused by these revela- 
tions was so great, that the multitude assembled in 
the hall were involuntarily led into the delusion 
that the demons were present among them, witness- 
ing the exposure of their victims, and suddenly in 
the midst of this sensation, " there was heard a 
crack from the scaffold which carry ed a great feare, 
tumult, and commotion, amongst the spectators and 
through the hall, every one feareing hurt, as if the 
devill had bine present and growen angry to have 
his workemanshipp knowne by such as were not 
his owne schoUars." The reporter adds, ^* There 
was alsoe a note showed in courte, made by doctor 
Foreman, and written in parchment, signifying 
what ladyes loved what lords in the court, but the 
lord chiefe justice would not suffer it to be read 
openly in courte." This *' note," or book, is under- 
stood to have been a diary of Foreman's dealings 
with the persons implicated ; and, according to the 
scandal of the time, the reason why my lord chief 



justice objected to reading it was, that his own wife's 
name was the first which caught his eye on opening 
it* Mrs. Turner had been a favourite with the 
court ladies on account of her skill in inventing 
new fashions ; fully aware that it was useless to 
make any defence, she sought to move compassion 
by representing that she was a mere servant to the 
will of people of higher rank, on whom she had to 
depend for the support of herself and children. Her. 
fate is said to have excited much commiseration. 

Several months were allowed to elapse after the 
execution of the minor agents, on whose confessions 
these charges rested, before the great offenders were 
proceeded against The countess of Somerset was 
brought to her trial on the 24th of May, 1616, and 
she at once pleaded guilty, under the evident im- 
pression that this plea was to merit a pardon. 
This had no doubt been arranged before-hand. 
There remained nothing now but to condemn the 
earl, whose trial was fixed for the day following, the 
25th of May ; but he, it appears, was more difficult 
to- deal with than the other prisoners. The conduct 
of the king and the earl on this occasion was calcu- 
lated to excite extraordinary suspicions ; for the re- 
ports of the trial and the version of the story which 
came before the public were evidently drawn up for 
the purpose of deceiving. An attempt has been made 
to throw some light on these mysterious transactions 

* Had we Foreman's private diaries for this period, they 
would no douht throw much light on contemporary history. 
The immorality of the conjuror's private character is suffi- 
ciently evinced hy that portion of his secret diaries privately 
printed hy Mr. Halliwell. 


by Mr. Amos, who has examined the documents re- 
lating to this trial preserved in the State Paper- 
office, and has collected the materials which we are 
now to use.* 

The letters of Bacon, whose conduct throughout 
these trials was, to say the least, most unmanly, 
show us that the king looked forward to the trial of 
Somerset with the greatest uneasiness, and that 
every effort was made to induce him to admit the 
justice of the prosecution, even by the promise of 
the king's pardon. Bacon writes to sir George Vil- 
liers, on the second of May, "That same little 
charm, which may be secretly infused into Somer- 
set's ear some few hours before his trial, was excel- 
lently well thought of by his majesty, and I do ap- 
prove it both for matter and time ; only, if it seems 
good to his majesty .... I could wish it were 
made a little stronger, by giving him some hopes 
that his majesty wi^ll be good to his lady and child, 
&c. . . . For the person that should deliver this mes- 
sage, I am not so well seen in the region of his 
friends, as to be able to make choice of a particu- 
lar ; my lord treasurer, the lord KnoUys, or any of 
his nearest friends, should not be trusted with it, 
for they may go too far, and perhaps work contrary 
to his majesty's ends. Those which occur to me 
are my lord Hay, my lord Burleigh, of England I 
mean, and sir Robert Carre." On the fifth of May, 
Bacon writes to Villiers, after stating his opinion 

* The Grand Oyer of Poisoning: the Trial of the Earl of 
Somerset for the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury in the 
Tower of London. By Andrew Amos, Esq. London, Bentley, 

M-Ji^J _ ,*jmt XI I III! aiiiK^^w^MiHHHHHHHaip 


that the "resuscitation of Somerset's fortune" would 
be impolitic : " But yet the glimmering of that 
which the king hath done to others, by way of talk 
to him, cannot hurt, as I conceive ; but I would not 
have that part of the message as from the king, but 
added by the messenger, as from himself . .. . The 
time I wish to be the Tuesday, being the even of 
his lady's arraignment ; for, as his majesty first con- 
ceived, I would not have it stay in his stomach too 
long, lest it sour in the digestion.'^ He was, in fact, 
to be taken by surprise, and not left time for calm 
reflection. Several other letters and papers of Bacon 
contain similar intimations ; and it appears from 
one, that while the countess and her husband were 
kept perfectly in the secret' as to what course the 
other was pursuing, or what evidence existed against 
the other, they were still played off against each 
other. Bacon says, on the 10th of May, " It is 
thought that at the day of her trial the lady will 
confess the indictment ; which, if she do, no evi- 
dence ought to be given. But because it shall not 
be a dumb show, and for his majesty's honour in so 
solemn an assembly, I purpose to make a declara- 
tion of the proceedings of this great work of justice, 
from the beginning to the end, wherein, neverthe- 
less, I will be careful no ways to prevent or dis- 
cover the evidence of the next day. In this my 
lord chancellor and I have likewise used a point of 
providence ; for I did forecast, that if in that narra- 
tive, by the connection of things, anything should be 
spoken that should show him guilty, she might break 
forth into passionate protestations /or his clearing : 
which, though it may be justly made light of, yet it 
is better avoided; therefore, my lord chancellor 


and I have devised, that upon the entrance into 
that declaration she shall, in respect of her weaJcness, 
and not to add further affliction, be withdrawn" In a 
paper of questions for the management of the earl's 
trial, in Bacon's handwriting, it ig suggested, " Whe- 
ther, if my lord of Somerset should break forth into 
any speech of taxing the king, he be not presently by 
the lord steward to be interrupted and silenced; 
and, if he persist, he be not to be told, that if he 
take that course, he is to be withdrawn, and evidence 
to be given in his absence" It must be observed, 
that there is no intimation that Somerset had ever 
threatened to save himself by accusing the king, so 
that the fear on that head must have arisen from 
some great misgiving on the part of the latter. 

Sir George Moore had been appointed lieutenant 
of the Tower when Somerset was committed, and in 
his family have been preserved the autograph letters 
which the king addressed to him during the prepa- 
rations for the trial.* From these, we see how 
anxiously James was acting in the views expressed 
in the above extracts from Bacon's letters. In the 
first of the king's letters, dated on the 9th of May, 
James says to sir George Moore, " As the only con- 
fidence I had in your honesty made me, without 
the knowledge of any, put you in that place of trust 
which you now possess, so must I now use your 
trust and secresy in a thing greatly concerning my 
honour and service ;" and he then desires him to 
admit, in the greatest secresy, to his prisoner, a pri- 
vate messenger, who was to persuade him to confess. 
On the 13th of May, the king writes again, " Al- 

* They are now at Losely, in Surrey, and were printed in 
Kemp's ** Losely Papers." 

THE king's fears. 33 

though I fear that the last message I sent to your 
unfortunate prisoner shall not take the effect that I 
wish it should, yet I cannot leave off to use all 
means possible to move him to do that which is 
most honourable for me, and his own best. You 
shall, therefore, give him assurance in my 
name, that if he will yet before his trial confess 
clearly unto the commissioners his guiltiness of this 
fact, I will not only perform what I promised by 
my last messenger, both towards him and his wife, 
but I will enlarge it . . . Assure him that I protest 
upon my honour, my endin this is for his and his wife's 
good ; you will do well likewise, of yourself to cast 
out unto him, that you fear his wife shall plead 
weakly for his innocence, and that you find the com- 
missioners have, you know not how, some secret as- 
surance that, in the end, she will confess of him ; 
but this must only be as from yourself, and there- 
fore you must not let him know that I have written 
to you .... if he remain obstinate, I desire not 
that you should trouble me with an answer ; for it 
is to no end, and no news is better than evil news'' 
In another letter, undated, the king speaks in the 
same strain, and adds, " It is easy to be seen that 
he would threaten me, with laying an aspersion 
upon me of being in some sort accessory to his 
crime;'' and in a fourth, which appears to have 
been written early on the morning of the trial, 
James gives some curjous directions what should be 
done with the earl, in case he refused to go to the 
trial. It appears that Somerset did not believe that 
the king would allow him to be brought to a public 

c 5 


These letters to sir George Moore furnish a 
striking confirmation of sir Anthony Weldon's narra- 
tive of what took place on the eve of the trial, 
which will be best given in his own words : — " And 
now, for the last act, enters Somerset himselfe on the 
stage, who (being told, as the manner is, by the 
lieutenant, that he must provyde to goe next day to 
his tryal) did absolutely refuse it, and said they 
should carry him in his bed — that the king had as- 
sured him he should not come to any tryal, neither 
durst the king bring him to tryal. This was in an 
high strain, and in a language not weU understood 
by sir George Moore, (then lieutenant in Elwaies 
his room) that made Moore quiver and shake ; and 
however he was accounted a wise man, yet he Ivas 
neare at his wits' end. Yet away goes Moore to 
Greenewich, as late as it was, (being twelve at night), 
bounseth at the back stayres as if mad, to whom 
came Jo. Loveston, one of the grooms, out of his bed, 
inquires the reason of that distemper at so late a 
season. Moore tells hinl he must speak with the 
king. Loveston replyes, * He is quiet,' (which in 
the Scottish dialect, is fast asleep.) Moore says, 
' You must awake him.' Moore was called in, (the 
chamber left to the king and Moore.) He tells the 
king those passages, and desired to be directed by 
the king, for he was gone beyond his owne reason, 
to heare such bold and undutiful expressions from a 
faulty subject against a just sovereigne. The king 
falls into a passion of tears : ' On my soule, Moore, I 
wot not what to do ! Thou art a wise man ; help 
me in this great strait, and thou shalt finde thou 
dost it for a thankful master ; with other sad 


expressions. Moore leaves the king in that passion, 
but assures him he will prove the utmost of his wit 
to serve his majesty ; and was really rewarded with 
a suit, worth to him «ei,500 (although Annandale, 
his great friend, did cheat him of one half; so was 
there falsehood in friendship). Sir George Moore 
returns to Somerset about three next morning of 
that day he was to come to triall, enters Somerset's 
chamber, tells him he had been with the king, 
found him a most affectionate master unto him, and 
full of grace in his intentions towards himu * But,' 
said he, ' to satisfie justice you must appeare, al- 
though retume instantly againe, without any further 
proceedings; only you shall know your enemies 
and their malice, though they shall have no power 
over you.' With this trick of wit he allayed his 
fury, and got him quietly, about eight in the morn- 
ing, to the hall ; yet feared his former bold language 
might revert againe, and being brought by this trick 
into the toile, might haVe more enraged him to fly 
out into some strange discovery ; for prevention 
whereof he had two servants placed on each side 
of him, with a cloak on their arms, giving them 
withall a peremptory order, if that Somerset did any 
way fly out on the king, they should instantly hood- 
wink him with their cloaks, take him violently 
from the bar, and carry him away ; for which he 
would secure them from any danger, and they 
should not want also a bountiful reward. But the 
earle, finding himself over-reached, recollected a 
better temper, and went on calmly in his tryall, 
where he held the company untill seven at night. 
But who had seen the king's restlesse motion all 


that day, sending to every boat he saw landing at 
the bridge, cursing all that came without tidings, 
would have easily judged all was not right, and 
there had been some grounds for his feares of Somer- 
set's boldnesse ; but at last one bringing him word 
he was condemned and the passages, all was quiet 
This is the very relation from Moore's owne mouth, 
and this told verbatim in Wanstead Parke, to two 
gentlemen, (of which the author was one,) who 
were both left by him to their own freedome, with- 
out engaging them, even in those times of high dis- 
temperatures, unto a faithful secresie in concealing 
it, yet, though he failed in his wisdome, they failed 
not in that worth inherent in every noble spirit, 
never speaking of it till after the king's death/' 

Somerset's trial was, in every respect, a mere 
mockery of justice. He was tried, not by his peers 
in parliament, but by a select number of peers 
chosen for the occasion, who were his personal 
enemies or creatures of the court. His judges again 
urged him to plead guilty, intimating that his wife 
had made a confession that implicated him, and 
holding out the prospect of a full pardon as the re- 
ward of his confession. When he still insisted upon 
his innocence, they brought against him no wit- 
nesses, but merely adduced as evidence the confes- 
sions of the persons who had already been hanged, 
and who had never been confronted with the man they 
accused. On the contrary, one gentleman, sir John 
Lidcot, no friend of Somerset's, having presumed, on 
the scaffold, to ask Weston, who it was pretended had 
delivered the poison, whether he had poisoned Over- 
bury or not, was thrown into the Tower and treated 


harshly. Late in the afternoon the earl began an 
able and eloquent defence, in which he explained 
away or denied every circumstance adduced to show 
that he knew of the murder ; and he insisted that 
his assertions ought to have greater weight with the 
court than those of condemned felons, proved by 
their own confessions to be persons of base cha- 
racter, and whom he had no opportunity of cross 
examining. The peers found him guilty. 

When we look even at the report of Somerset's 
trial which was published to the world by those 
who were far from being friends to him, we are 
struck with the unsatisfactory character of the 
evidence upon which he was condemned But our 
astonishment is increased when we read the original 
depositions of the pretended agents, many of which 
are fortunately preserved in the State Paper Office, 
and are now, for the first time, published by Mr. 
Amos. We there find these witnesses, in state- 
ments drawn fi^m them, it would appear, by the 
most unworthy means, contradicting one another, 
and contradicting themselves; so much so that 
these papers would lead us almost necessarily to the 
conclusion that there was no poisoning at all. They 
are mostly in the handwriting of Coke, who di- 
rected the examination of the persons accused, and 
are covered with notes and erasures by Bacon, who 
conducted, under the immediate direction of the 
king, the prosecution ; and we discover from these 
notes, and from a comparison of the extracts read 
in court at the trial, that Bacon not only suppressed 
carefully everything that would tell in favour of the 
earl of Somerset, but that he altered phrases and 


falsified the original in order to make a direct accu- 
sation of what in that original was little better than 
a supposition. 

It is clear from the original depositions that sir 
Thomas Overbury was either not poisoned, or that 
he must have been poisoned by the king's own physi- 
cian, who constantly attended upon him in the Tower. 
This is a very important circumstance, and was en- 
tirely concealed from the public. In fact, during 
the whole course of proceedings in this strange 
affair, no attempt Was made to prove that Overbury 
did die of poison, but that was taken as an acknow* 
ledged fact The king and the public prosecutors 
seem to have acted on the mere personal convic- 
tion that such was the case. The king's physician, 
Mayeme, who, as we have said, had attended on 
the deceased, and prescribed constantly for him, 
was not examined at all, nor were any medical men 
brought forward to give an opinion on the cause 
which had produced death. It is proved by the 
depositions in the State Paper Office, that an in- 
quest was held on the body, that his friends were 
permitted to visit it, and that no particular secresy 
was observed; yet not only were no physicians 
brought forward on the trial to state if any marks 
of the presence of poison had been observed on the 
body, but the depositions on this subject were con- 
cealed, and it was represented falsely that the body 
had been buried hastily and privately, and that 
Overbury's friends had not been allowed access to 
it Several persons who might have given im- 
portant evidence on the trial, had mere truth been 
sought, were certainly kept out of the way. 


Mr. Amos points out the improbability of tlje 
whole story of the poisoning, as it was made the 
groundwork of the trial, and we may fairly doubt 
if it were not a fiction to cover circumstances which 
could not safely be revealed. We learn from the 
narrative of sir Anthany Weldon, that Franklin, 
one of the minor agents, confessed that Sir Thomas 
Overbury was smothered by him and Weston, and was 
not poisoned. " The suspicious circumstance that 
none of Franklin's examinations taken before his 
trial are forthcoming, gives some countenance to 
this report.'' Mr. Amos's book contains a mass of 
evidence on this and other points which my space 
will not allow me to transfer to this review of the 

It must be confessed that, even with the im- 
portant additional evidence thus brought to light, 
the history of sir Thomas Overbury's murder is 
still clouded in mystery. The conclusion to which 
we are naturally led by the foregoing facts is, that 
any satisfactory evidence which could have been 
brought forward would have involved other accom- 
plices, whose names it was necessary to keep care- 
fully from public suspicion, and that the real object 
of the prosecution was the ruin and disgrace of the 
favourite, whom at last James, actuated by fear or 
some other motive, did not sacrifice to the utmost 
extent of the wishes of his enemies. The presump- 
tion is indeed strong that the murder was autho- 
rised by king James himself This supposition, 
at least, explains various circumstances which are 
otherwise totally inexplicable. We thus understand 
why the minor agents in the plot, and especially 



the unfortunate Keutenant of the Tower, (sir Ger- 
vais Helwysse,) and Overbuiy^s jailor, Weston, were 
so summarily despatched out of the world. We 
thus understand the tampering with their deposi- 
tions, which, with all the arrangements for the 
trial, were made according to the king's own direc- 
tiona And still more, we understand James's 
anxiety to prevent Somerset's anticipated revela- 

With this new view of the subject, we are led 
further to ask for a reason for this extraordinary 
state murder, and here at present we are left en- 
tirely to conjecture. The common story that Over- 
bury's murder was a mere act of revenge for his 
opposition to the marriage of Somerset with the 
countess of Essex, has always appeared to me to 
be in the highest degree improbable, when we con- 
sider the part he appears to have previously acted 
in promoting Somerset's amours, and the part which 
he knew the king was acting in promoting the mar- 
riage. It now appears in the light of a cover for 
some other transactions, invented probably by the 
king, but in which Somerset acquiesced in the 
trial, because it did not necessarily involve his own 
guilt, (as he only acknowledged to having been the 
means of sending Overbury to the Tower,) and be- 
cause he could not confute it without making reve- 
lations which he had then determined not to make. 
It is certain from passages of contemporary letters 
and papers, that, at the time when sir Thomas 
Overbury was committed to the Tower, no such ex- 
cuse for his committal was talked of, but that, on 
the contrary, it was looked upon generally as a 


mysterious transaction in which the favourite had 
no direct share, except that some persons imagined 
that the anger of the king towards his friend por- 
tended a diminution in the influence of the favourite 
himself A Mr. Packer, in a letter from the court 
to sir Ralph Winwood, dated April 22, 16 J 3, men- 
tions that the king sent the lord chancellor and 
lord Pembroke to offer an " embassage" to sir Thomas 
Overbury, which sir Thomas immediately refused, 
and that, some said, " he added some other speech 
which was very ill taken," and that thereupon the 
king sent for the council, and after making an 
angry speech, gave orders to them to send Overbury 
to prison. Other reasons were also suggested. A 
courtier, in a letter dated the 6th of May, 1613, 
writes, " Some say, lord Rochester took sir T. 
Overbury's committing to heart. Others talk as if 
it were a great diminution of his favour and credit, 
which the king doubting, would not have it so con- 
strued ; but the next day told the council that he 
meant him more grace and favour, as should be 
seen in a short time, and that he took more delight 
and contentment in his company and conversation 
than in any man's living." On the 27th of May, 
1613, sir H. Weston writes, " Sir Thomas Overbury 
is still where he was, (in the Tower,) and as he 
was, without any alteration; the viscount Rochester 
no way sinking in point of favour, which are two 
strange consistents." The earl of Southampton, 
writing to sir Ralph Winwood, on the 4th of Au- 
gust, 1613, says, " And much ado there hath been 
to keep sir Thomas Overbury from a public cen- 
sure of banishment and loss of office, such a rooted 
hatred lyeth in the king's heart towards him," 


The most probable supposition that we can make 
is, that Overbury was possessed of important royal 
secrets, which the king had reasons for fearing he 
might disclose, or that he had been a participator 
in crimes or vices which made him a dangerous 
person. According to hints thrown out by Mr. 
*Amos, the discovery of the secret would, per* 
haps, reveal scenes of royal depravity which it were 
as well should remain imknown. It is certain that 
there was at the time an opinion abroad, that sir 
Thomas Overbury had been an agent in evil deeds. 
He was even very commonly suspected of having had 
some hand in procuring the death of prince Henry, 
who was far from being a favourite with his father, who 
hated the favourite, and who was popularly believed 
to have been poisoned. There are a few very remark- 
able passages in the papers of the time, relating to this 
event, which certainly, when put together, tend to 
raise suspicion, and sir Edward Coke excited the 
king's anger to the highest degree, and was the 
cause of sir Thomas Monson's trial being abruptly 
put a stop to, by an unguarded expression in court, 
which alluded to those suspicions against Over- 
bury, and which it is said that James never for- 




While this tragedy was acting in England, a 
somewhat similar one, though under different cir- 
cumstances, was in progress in Franca 

On the death of Henri lY., slain by the assassin 
Ravaillac in 1610, his son, Louis XIII. being but a 
child, the royal power fell into the hands of the 
queen mother, Marie de Medicis. Among the ser- 
vants attached to Marie before her marriage, was a 
woman of extraordinary address and talent, the 
daughter of Marie^s nurse, named Eleonora Dori, or, 
a name she adopted afterwards, Eleonora GaligaL 
She soon became a great favourite with her mistress, 
whom she accompanied into France as a confidential 
attendant, and she gradually gained an imbound- 
ed influence over Henri's queen. One of the gen- 
tlemen followers of the queen was a Florentine, 
named Concino Concini, whose grandfather was se- 
cretary to the grand duke Cosmo, but the property 
he had scraped together was dissipated by his chil- 
dren, and Conchino, who had passed his youth so wildly 


that it is said to have become almost proyerbial for 
parents to warn their children of his example, was 
in indigent circumstances. In consequence of this, 
he went to seek his fortune at Rome, where he en- 
tered the service of the cardinal of Lorraine, who 
was then there, but he did not return with him to 
France. On the marriage of Marie de Medicis, he 
obtained, as has just been stated, a place in her 
household, and seeing the influence of Eleonora Ga- 
ligai, he paid his court to her, and with the queen's 
approbation, married her. The king is said to have 
looked on Concini with disfavour, and to have been 
opposed to the marriage. 

When Marie de Medicis became ruler of France, 
the influence of Concini and his wife was imme- 
diately apparent She was a woman of intelligence 
and prudence, but her husband was bold and hardy 
of temper, ambitious and overbearing, and was never 
at rest till he made his influence apparent to every 
one. His insolence increased with the queen*s 
power, and he exhibited it in an ofiensive manner to- 
wards the old French nobles of the court of the great 
Henri These frequently leagued together against 
him, and had recourse to arms, but having the power 
of the state at his command, he proceeded against 
them as rebels, and forced them to submission! 
Thus the period while the Concini were in power 
was for France a time of turbulence and distress 

Immediately after the king's death, Concini was 
made first gentleman of the chamber, and was re- 
warded with other lucrative posts. He was thus 
enabled to purchase the marquisate of Ancre, in 
Picardy, which title he now assumed. In 1613, the 


marquis d'Ancre was for a short time in disfavour, 
but he was soon restored, and then he was created 
marechal of France. With all these dignities, he 
also held the important office 6f governor of Nor- 

In 1615, the nobles, irritated at the manner in 
which they were treated by one whom they looked 
on as a mere upstart, and who had no talents to 
support his influence, which he owed only to his 
wife and to his own devotion to the service of the 
queen, were already plotting his overthrow; and 
although they then failed, they were indefatigable 
in their eflbrts to aggravate the populace and men 
of all ranks against him. During this and the fol- 
lowing years his unpopularity increased daUy. In 
1616, he offered an unnecessary and unwise provo- 
cation to the Parisians. A citizen named Picard 
had the command of the watch, at the gate of Bussy, 
one night when the queen's Italian minister was 
passing that way with his carriage. Picard, urged 
probably by the general dislike which the people of 
Paris bore to tho mar6chal d'Ancre, refused to open 
the gate till the latter had shown his passport. The 
marechal ordered two of his valets to seize Picard, 
and administer a severe beating to him, as a punish- 
ment for the afiront. The populace rose, seized the 
two valets, and hanged them on two gallows at the 
door of Picard's house, who from this moment be- 
came a hero among the Parisians 

Although the marechal's wife was more cautious 
of giving personal offence, her manners and charac- 
ter were equally unpopular. She was eccentric, 
loved to live apart from the world, and was of a 



suspicious and unsociable temper. She was, more- 
over, superstitious, and attributed her constant 
state of ill-health to the effects of sorcery. She 
caused herself frequently to be exorcised by Italian 
priests, and always had her face veiled in public to 
screen her from the gaze of i giiardatori, as she ex- 
pressed it, — ^against the influence of the evil eye. 
These peculiarities, joined with the belief that she 
principally ruled the queen-mother, made her^ 
equally with her husband an object of popular odium. 
People accused her of practising the very sorcery 
which she suspected in others, and it was widely 
believed that she had bewitched the queen. 

The marechal had two children by his wife, a son 
and a daughter. The latter died in I6I6, to the 
great grief of her parents ; her father is said to 
have looked upon this blow to his affections as a 
warning from above that his own fall was approach- 
ing, and his apprehensions were so great, that he 
proposed to his wife to retire from political life, and 
take refuge in Italy. But she was confident in 
her influence with the queen, and persuaded him to 

As the period of the favourite's downfall ap- 
proached, people became bolder in their attacks 
upon both, and less reserved in their speech. Scan- 
dalous anecdotes were sent abroad, and bitter and 
angry epigrams were published in abundance. 
People assailed them in coarse puns on the words 
(mere and encre^ and these were even uttered in the 
queen's presence* It is reported, that when one 
day the queen-mother said to one of her attendants, 
" Apportez-mcd mon voiU" the comte du Lude, who 


was standing by, remarked, with a smile, " Un 
navire qui est a TAncre na pas av/trement besoin de 

It was to one who had risen into importance 
at court partly by his favour, Charles d' Albert 
due de Luynes, that the marechal d'Ancre even- 
tually owed his fall This nobleman saw that his 
own power would be the immediate consequence of 
the destruction of his rival He nourished in every 
possible way the popular feeling against him, and 
he instilled all sorts of suspicions into the mind of 
the young king. The latter was getting tired of his 
mother s rule, and the restraint in which he waa 
held by her minister, and though still not much 
more than a child, he was anxious to assume the 
reins of government He therefore entered eagerly 
into the conspiracy; and when the duke and the 
other conspirators saw their time was come, they 
strengthened the king's resolution by dark insinua-^ 
tions that the minister was meditating the destruc- 
tion of his royal person as a means of rendering his 
own influence perpetual 

Even with the king's authority, the enemies of 
the marechal d'Ancre did not dare to attack their 
victim in a fair and open way, but it was resolved 
to effect their object by assassination. For this 
purpose they took into their confidence the baron 
de Vitry, d'Ancre's bitterest personal enemy, and 
his brother Du Hallier, and the king not only ah- 
thorised them to commit the murder, but promised 
to reward Vitry with the mar^chal's staff. Some 
other desperate characters were joined with them. 

On the morning of the 24th of April, 1617| the 


king rose early in the morning and announced a 
parti de chasse. Preparations were immediately 
made, and the horses and carriages brought out 
Under cover of this announcement, Vitry, Du Hal- 
lier, and their fellow-assassins, were collected within 
the gateway of the palace. The marechal d'Ancre 
had not himself apartments in the Louvre, but he 
lodged in a house which formed what was called 
the capitainerie of the Louvre, at the end of the 
garden towards the present Rue du Coq, where this 
garden was entered by a little bridge which was 
called popularly the Pont d'Amour. A person was 
placed to watch this bridge, while the conspirators 
waited for the signal to inform them that the mare- 
chal was in view. This signal was given about ten 
o'clock in the forenoon, and the conspirators over- 
took their victim as he was entering upon the Pont 
du Louvre. The baron de Vitry was so fierce and 
eager that he passed the marechal before he was 
aware of him, and was called back by his brother 
Du Hallier. One or two pistols were then dis- 
charged at him, on which he fell wounded, and 
they instantly dispatched him with their swords. 

The young king, in the utmost anxiety, had 
seized his arquebuse, and he now came forward to 
the window to encourage the assassins, shouting 
out publicly, " I thank you, gentlemen : now I 
am king indeed I" The persons to whom these 
words were addressed had the baseness not only 
to share the plunder of the marechal's person, 
but they afterwards disputed the merit of having 
struck the first blow, for the sake of the reward. 
When the marechale heard of her husband's fate. 


she hurried t6 her chamber, undressed herself, and 
went to bed, hiding under her her own jewels, and 
the jewels of the crown, which were entrusted to 
her care, to save them. But the assassins came 
and, dragging her roughly out of her bed, carried 
off all the jewellery and whatever they found in 
the room of value, as lawful plunder. The same 
day the king gave d'Ancre's staff of marechal to 
the baron de Vitry, and the others were all largely 
recompensed. The estates of the Concinis were 
granted to the due de Luynes. The queen-mother 
saw that her government was at an end, and she 
quietly resigned herself to her fate; she was 
exiled from court, and sent to reside at Blois. 

^fhe mar^chal's enemies at court had now had 
their triumph, and it remained only for the popu- 
lace to take theirs. The body of the murdered 
favourite had been carried off by some of his fol- 
lowers, and was buried secretly and by night in the 
church of St Germain TAuxerrois. Next morning 
some traitor gave information to the Parisians, and 
pointed out the place where he was interred. The 
populace rose tumultuously, hurried to the church, 
and, in spite of the remonstrances of the guardians 
of the church, who appealed to their respect for the 
dead, they forced their way in, broke up the floor, 
and tearing open the grave— it was said, with their 
finger-nails — ^broke the coffin, and drew the body 
naked into the street. There they dragged it along 
ferociously through mud and dirt, tiU they reached 
the head of the Pont Neuf, where stood a gallows, 
which had been erected by the marechal's orders. 
They suspended the corpse on this gallows, and let 



it hang there a short time, during which they cut 
oflFthe nose and ears, and otherwise mutilated it, 
with horrible curses and vociferations, obliging 
everybody they met to join in shouting vive le roi ! 
Then they took it down, and dragged it to the 
bronze statue of Henri IV., where it was passed 
through a fire, which had been hastily made for the 
purpose. Thence the mob, continually increasing 
in numbers and ferocity, dragged the body to the 
place before the hotel of the mar^chal, in the Fau- 
bourg St. Germain, where they repeated their out- 
rages, beating the corpse with stones and sticks, 
amid the most horrible yells and screams. The 
same scene was repeated in front of the marechal's 
lodgings at the Louvre. It is said that the king, 
who was looking on from the balcony of the Louvre, 
encouraged the mob. After similar exhibitions in 
all the public places of Paris, the mutilated and 
disfigured body was at last carried to the place of 
the Greve, where a large fire was ready to receive 
it. The populace had become savage with drink, 
and before the remains of the mar^chal were com- 
mitted to the flames, the flesh was torn in shreds 
from the bones in the struggles of individuals to 
obtain a portion to carry home and bum at their 
own houses. It was reported that people had ob- 
tained high prices for sheep's kidneys, under the 
pretence that they were the kidneys of the marechal 
de TAncre. 

The due de Luynes was now at the head of the 
government, and he determined to complete his 
work by the destruction of the mar^chale. On the 
29th of April she was committed to the Bastile, 



where she wjts treated with cruelty and insult 
Her son, a mere child, was also thrown into prison^ 
lifter haying been stripped naked, and it is said he 
was left a whole day without clothes or food. When 
at length inquiries were made after him, so great 
was the inhumanity of the enemies of the late fa- 
vourite, that some of the principal ladies of the court 
had the boy brought before them to dance a sara- 
bande, a dance in which he was said to excel. 

Meanwhile no means were neglected to vilify the 
name of the favourite, and prejudice people against 
his widow. Writers were eipployed to traduce 
them both ; numerous pamphlets were published, 
detailing the insolence of the marechal, and the 
sorceries of the marechale ; they were both made 
the subject of indecent raillerie ; brutal and licen- 
tious songs and epigrams were composed,* in many 

* The following is one of the more temperate of these effu- 


L'on parle d'une marquise 

Et du coyon Florentin, 

Qui eut pour son entreprise 

Le royaume de Pantin. 

S'eUe estoit bonne sorciere, • 

Ainsi que chacim croyoit, 

Au Hen d'estre pnsonniere, 
I Maintenant elle riroit. 

^ Mais sa finesse et ses oharmes 

^ Que deux monstret^ de I'enfer 

N'ont peu empescher lea armes 

Yengeresse des coyons. 

Aussi n'est-il pas propice, 

Que deux monstres de I'enfer 

D 2 


of which the Parisians were invited to treat the 
widow as they had treated her husband.* 

The only accusations brought against the mare* 
chale d'Ancre at her trial, were those of being a 
witch, of holding communication with witches, and 
of having bewitched the queen-mother. The proofs 
were her familiar intercourse with Montalto, the 
Jew physician who had accompanied Marie de 
Medicis from Italy, the exorcisms to which she had 
subjected herself as a defence against the witch- 
craft to which she believed herself exposed, and 
which were performed by ItaUan priests in die 
church of the Augustins, and the extraordinary in- 
fluence she had always exerted over the queen. It 
appears that at times, when suffering from dreadful 
pains in the head, the fancy or the superstition of 
her medical attendants had ordered the application 
of a newly-killed cock, or other bird, and this was 
now represented as a sacrifice to the demons. Her 
retired and in many cases strange manners were 
also cited against her. She often sat alone, 
strangely pensive and absti'acted, and at such times 
it was her habit to continue rolling bits of wax 

S'opposent a la justice 
Tant des flames que du fer. 

* As in the foUowiiig sample. 


G'est assez, c'est assez, execrable Megere» 
Infemalle furie, engence dd vipere, 
D'avoir desus la France vomy tant de venin ! 
Peuple, dresses un feu, pour brusler la sorciere ; 
Jettes la cendre au vent, escartes la poussiere, 
Qu'on luy fasse de mesme qu'on a faict au faquin. 



between her fingers until they assumed the form of 
little bullets, which she threw into a coffer that 
lay by her. When her room was searched, after 
her arrest, a number of coffers filled with thes^ 
bullets of wax were found, and these were taken 
for corroborative evidence that she was a sorcerer. 
It was looked upon as a circumstance of more im- 
portance that the astrological nativities of the 
qneen and her children, carefully drawn up, were 
found in her possession ; these, which in truth 
only showed the interest the favourite took in the 
fate of the royal family, were looked upon as in- 
struments of sorcery. It was further reported 
abroad, to increase the popular hatred, that they 
found in her cabinet a quantity of books of magic, 
with virgin parchment, and a great number of ma- 
gical characters.* 

On several occasions between the end of April 
and the beginning of July, the marechale was put 
to the torture for the purpose of compelling her to 
confess that she had bewitched the queen-mother, 
but she bore it all with firmness. It is said, that 
when asked what were the charms she used to gain 
possession of the queen's affections, she replied 
proudly, that it was but the power of a weak mind 
over a strong one. The proofs against her were, 
however, pronounced to be sufficient to convict her 

* One of the scurrilous pamphlets published after the assas- 
sination of the marechal d'Ancre, under the title of "La 
Medee de la France^ depeinte en la personne de la marquise 
^Ancre" tells us, " lis ont trouve dans son cabinet quantite de 
livres de magie, du parchemin vierge, et grand nombre de 



of the (»ime of high treason, and she wds con- 
demned to be beheaded and then burnt, her house 
to be razed to the gi-ound, and all her blood sttuck 
with incapacity. 

The ma^^chale d'Ancre expected that the utmost 
severity she had to expect vas banishment and 
confiscation of her property, and when she heard 
heir sentence, she waa struck with the utmost asto- 
nishment, cried out i*epeatedly in her distress, 
" Oimepovretta !" afid declared in arrest of judg- 
ment that she was with child. This plea, howevet, 
she immediately retracted, and wh^n she was led 
to execution on the 8th of July, she submitted to her 
fate with firmness and resignation* The fury of 
the Parisian mob had itself abated, and the hated 
Italian favourite became on the scaffold an Object 
of general commiseration. 




The belief in witchcraft was at this time turned 
to a new purpose by the Romish priesthood They 
had long claimed exclusively for the church of 
Rome a transcendental authority and power which 
they were fain, in their present contest with the 
Protestant reformers, to support with pretended 
miracles ; and the belief which gained ground in 
the latter half of the sixteenth century, that people 
under the influence of witchcraft were possessed 
with demons in the same manner as the demoniacs 
of the New Testament, was too favourable to their 
plans to be neglected. Perhaps a great number of 
the Catholic cler^ believed conscientiously in 
the reality of these possessions, but in the more 
remarkable cases which have been chronicled, the 
patients were evidently persons tutored for the 
occasion ; and upon the evidence of such people 
men of character were hurried to the gallows or the 

■•Wii"^^"^^"'^«»we^BWi^"^WB^i^W«WMI^^WiBWBBWlBB^B«B^^B^iM^^^'^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^"^^^^ *( 


There were many of these pretended cases of ob- 
session in England, but they were generally dis- 
couraged by the church, and were in most cases 
detected and exposed. In 1575, a woman of West- 
well, in Kent, named Mildred Nerrington, pretended 
to be possessed, and accused a poor old woman of 
the neighbourhood of having sent a devil into her. 
The affair went so far, that the vicar of the parish, 
with a neighbouring clergyman, believed that they 
had expelled the demon by their prayers, and 
printed a relation of it. The civil power in this 
case was more effectual in establishing truth than 
the ecclesiastical, for the pretended demoniac con- 
fessed before two justices of the peace that it was 
an imposture, and she explained the way in which 
she had deceived the two clergymen. In 1579, a 
Welch girl, named Elizabeth Orton, pretended to 
fall into trances, and see visions, which were pub- 
lished with great solemnity by some Roman Ca- 
tholic priests ; but she also was detected, and made 
a public confession in Chester cathedral. Two 
years afterwards, another case of pretended demo- 
niacs, in which some Jesuits were implicated, was 
similarly exposed. In 1598, a Protestant clergyr 
man, named William Darrell, made a great noise by 
his pretended dispossessing of demoniacs in Not- 
tinghamshire ; but his practice also ended in ex- 
posure With a view to such cases, which were 
multiplying alarmingly, the convocation of the 
clergy, in the first year of king James, made a 
canon, " that no minister or ministers, without 
license and direction of the bishop, imder his hand 
and seal obtained, attempt, upon any pretence what- 


soever, either of possession or obsession, by fasting 
and prayer, to cast out any devil or devils, under 
pain of the imputation of imposture or cozenage, 
or deposition from the ministry/' 

Such cases were diflferently treated by the church 
in countries where the Romish faith was established, 
and where, though many of the more honest and bet- 
ter informed of the popish clergy regarded them at 
least with suspicion, they were encouraged by the 
teaching and example of those who were looked 
upon as the greatest authorities. Solemn forms of 
invocation were composed for the purpose of exor- 
cising the demons, and driving them away from 
their victims ; and these were as various and as 
superstitious sis the charms of the magicians. The 
grand authority on this subject was an Italian 
ecclesiastic of the sixteenth century, named Gero- 
nimo Mengi, who published two collections of these 
6!xorcisms, which in the Latin edition are entitled 
FlageUum Dcemonvmiy the* whip or scourge of de- 
mons, and Fustis Dcemonum, a club for the demons. 
In the introductory chapters of these books, the 
author describes the manner in which the exorcist 
was lo prepare for his important office, treats of the 
nature of the evil beings with whom he was to deal, 
and warns him against their cunning and tergiver- 
sation. Among other things, he discusses the ques- 
tion whether it be lawful to make use of insulting 
language to the demons, and he resolves it in the 
affirmative. Another recommendation of this au- 
thor shows the spirit of the whole — ^the demons 
were to be compelled to give some open testimony 
to the truth of the Romish faith. Sometimes, he 

D 5 

5s soaosBt aITb MAaic. 

says, the demons are rerj obstinate, bat the ezor- 
ciser was to persevere day after day with great 
patience, and, above all, he was to endeavour to 
obtain possession of the instruments of sorcery, 
which, being burnt, would greatly weaken the power 
of the evil one. Finally, he directs that the demo- 
niacs should, if possible, be exorcised in an open 
church, before as large a congregation of people as 

These doctrines became in France and other 
countries, the groundwork for extraordinary cases 
of individual persecution, of which the one I am 
now going to relate was not the least remarkable. 

At Aix, in Provence, there Was a convent of Ur- 
suline nuns. It was one of the jA^orest of the 
monastic orders of females^ for which reason they 
were allowed several ways of gaining a livelihood ; 
and they seem to have been easily made the tools 
of the priests. Among the ITrsulines of Aix there 
was, in the year 1610, a young lady named Mag-r 
dalen de la Palude, who appears then to have been 
a new convert She was the daughter of the sieur 
de la Palude, a Provencal gentleman, who lived in 
the neighbourhood of Marseilles. Magdalen had 
not been long among the sisters of St. Ursida before 
she was seized with trances, and these soon commu- 
nicated themselves to one of the nuns named 
Louise Capeau, whom she had chosen to be her in- 
timate fiiend, and subsequently to some of their 
companions. It was evident they were possessed, 
and the superior of the priests proceeded to exorcise 
them in a little chapel, but to no purpose, and for 
A full year the demons continued obstinate. 


Among the mountains, about three leagues from 
Aix, is the cave of La Sainte Baume, or " the holy 
cavern," in which Mary Magdalen, according to the 
popish tradition, was said to have passed her latter 
days, and which was now looked upon as a very 
holy place of pilgrimage. A convent had been 
founded on the spot, dedicated to the two patron 
saints of Provence, St. Magdalen and St Maximin, 
the prior of which, at the time these events oc- 
curred, was Sebastian Michaelis, who was of sufficient 
importance to hold the office of an inquisitor of the 
faith. The superior of the priests of Aix, finding 
his own exorcisms of no avail, applied to the inqui- 
sitor Michaelis, by whose direction the two patients, 
Magdalen de la Palude, and Louise Capeau, were 
carried to the Sainte Baume. The demons now be- 
came more tractable, and the exerciser learnt that 
Magdalen was possessed by Belzebub, and her com- 
panion by a less potent imp, named Verrine, who con- 
fessed that they had taken possession of the sufferers 
by order of Louis Gaufridi, who was the prince and 
commander of all the magicians in Spain, France, 
England, and other countries, as far as Turkey, and 
who had Lucifer for his demon. This Gaufridi was 
a native of the mountains of Provence, born at 
Beauvezer les Colmaret ; he was now a priest at 
Marseilles, enjoying, it would appear, no very good 
reputation, especially on account of his intrigues 
with women, and he seems to have been an object 
of jealousy and ill-feeling among his fellow-clergy. 

Sister Magdalen was induced to confess that 
when she was very young, Louis Gtiufridi was a 
frequent visitor at her father's house in the coun- 


try, and that one day when they were in the fields^ 
he lured her away to a cavern at no great distance 
from her home. When they entered the cavern, 
she saw a great number of people, at which she 
was amazed, but her companion encouraged her 
and said, " These are our friends, you must be 
marked like them.'" The poor girl was in such 
astonishment that she made no resistance, but sub- 
mitted to be marked and abused, and then she 
returned home, telling nobody, not even her father 
or mother, what had occurred. After this she was 
frequently carried to the meeting of the witches, of 
whom she was made princess, as Gaufridi was their 
prince. Although she still remained in her father's 
house, her intercourse with Gaufridi continued, 
until she suddenly took a fancy to enter the con- 
vent of the nuns of St. Ursula. When she con- 
sulted Gaufridi on this step, he earnestly dissuaded 
her from it, urged her to marry, and promised to 
find her a rich and handsome husband; but when he 
saw that she was fixed in her determination, he 
became angry, and threatened that, if she became a 
nun, his punishment should be not only upon her, 
but upon all the sisterhood, and the consequence 
was the visitation under which they were now suf- 
fering. Such was the statement made by Mag- 
dalen de la Palude to the inquisitor of the Sainte 

The two nuns arrived at the Sainte Baume on 
the 27th of November, 1610, and the prior Mi- 
chaelis seems to have taken a pleasure in exercising 
the office of exorcist, for he continued his exami^ 
jiations almost daily till the month of April follow^ 



lowing. On their first arrival at the convent of the 
holy cave, the demons were extremely violent, and, 
imtated by the prior's exorcisms, they threw their 
victims into violent contortions, raised them up- in 
the church, (the place of exorcising,) and attempted 
to carry them out by an opening over the choir, 
but they were prevented. In the course of a day 
or two the exorcisms began to produce their effect, 
and on the 7th of December, Verrine, who was the 
weaker demon and had possession of sister Louise, 
was compelled to talk. He said that Le^uise was 
possessed by three devils' himself and two others, 
named Gresil and Sonneillon. Next day Verrine 
gave a long account of the beauty, merits, and 
glory of the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile Belzebub, 
who possessed sister Magdalen, was enraged at the 
informations given by his fellow-demon, and during 
his discourse on the merits of the Virgin Mary, he 
began to bellow like a mad bull, turning his vic- 
tim's head and eyes in dreadful contortions, and 
taking off one of her shoes, threw it at Verrine and 
struck sister Louise on the head. On the 9th of 
December, the demon Verrine accused sister Mag- 
dalen of being a witch, and exhorted her to repent- 
ance, but he said that sister Louise was innocent. 
Belzebub was again turbulent, and threatened Ver- 
rine with punishment, but the latter treated his 
menaces with contempt; he said he owed obedi- 
ence to Belzebub when they were in hell together, 
but that under circumstances like the present he 
was his equal. On the 10th, Verrine entered into 
details relating to the punishments of the other 
world, and Belzebub was less unruly, though he 


tossed his Tictim, sister Magdalen, from one side of 
the church to the other, saying that was the way 
they tossed about the souls of sinners in the regions 
below. During all these strange proceedings, the 
church was crowded with pilgrims, who went away 
" much edified."' 

It was decided on the 12th of December that in 
future, while one priest exorcised and questioned 
the demons, another should commit their answers 
to writing. These depositions were collected and 
printed seriously by the exorciser Sebastian Mi- 
chaelis, whose book made a great sensation, and 
went through several editions. It forms a sort of 
compendium of transcendental divinity ; for the 
exorciser directed his examinations to the express 
object of obtaining " authentic'' information on dif- 
ferent points respecting which doubts might exist 
in the minds of christians. Among other things 
the demons told them that Antichrist was bom ; and 
when questioned as to the condition of Solomon 
and Nebuchadnezzar, whether Henri IV. (then 
lately dead) was saved, and on other similar mat- 
ters, they gave replies which were highly satisfac- 
tory to all zealous Catholics. On one occasion Bel- 
zebub spoke with great bitterness against the art of 
printing, cursing the inventors of it, those who 
exercised it, and the doctors who gave their ap- 
probation to the books 1 These exorcisms, as 
I have stated above, were continued till the month 
of April, 1611 ; the demons appear to have suffered 
severely under the compulsion by which such con- 
fessions were extorted, and from time to time they 
became rebellious, and howled and shouted, invok- 
ing other demons to their assistance ! 


The priests who conducted this affair seem ahnost 
to have lost sight of Louis Gbufridi, in their 
anxiety to collect these important evidences of the 
true faith. It was not till towards the close of 
winter that the reputed wizard was again thought 
of A warrant was then obtained against him, and 
he was taken into custody and confined in the pri- 
son of the conciergerie at Marseilles. On the 5th 
of March he was for the first time confronted with 
sister Magdalen, but without producing the result 
anticipated by his persecutors. Little information 
is given as to the subsequent proceedings against 
him, but he appears to have been treated with 
great severity, and to have persevered in asserting 
his innocenca Sister Magdalen, or rather the 
demon within her, gave information of certain 
marks on his body which had been placed there by 
the evil one, and on search they were found exactly 
as described. It is not to be wondered at, if, after 
the intercourse which had existed between them, 
sister Magdalen were able to give such information. 
Still G-aufridi continued unshaken, and he made no 
confession, until at length, on Easter Eve, the 26th 
of March, 1611, a fuU avowal of his guilt was 
drawn from him, we are not told through what 
means, by two capuchins of the convent of Aix, to 
which place he had been transferred for his trial. 
At the beginning of April, another witness, the 
demoiselle Victoire de Courbier, came forward to 
depose that she had been bewitched by the rene- 
gade priest, who had obtained her love by his 
charms, and he made no objection to their adding 
this new incident to his confession. 


Gaufridi acknowledged the truth of all that had 
been said by sister Magdalen or by her demon. He 
said that an uncle, who had died many years ago^ 
had left him his books, and that one day, about five 
or six years before his arrest on this accusation, he 
was looking them over, when he found amongst 
them a volume of ma^ic, in which were some writ- 
ings in French verse, accompanied with strange 
characters. His curiosity was excited, and he 
began to read it, when to his great astonishment 
and consternation, the demon appeared in a human 
form, and said to him, " What do you desire of me, 
for it is you who have called me V Graufridi was 
young, and easily tempted, and when he had reco- 
vered from his surprise, and was re-assured by the 
manner and conversation of his visitor, he replied 
to his offer, " If you have power to give me what I 
desire, I ask for two things ; first, that I shall pre- 
vail with all the women I like ; secondly, that I 
shall be esteemed and honoured above all the 
priests of this country, and enjoy the respect of 
men of wealth and honour."' We may see perhaps 
through these wishes the reason why Graufridi was 
persecuted by the rest of the clergy. The demon 
promised to grant him his desires, on condition 
that he would give up to him entirely his " body, 
soul, and works;'' to which Gaufridi agreed, ex- 
cepting only from the latter the administration of 
the holy sacrament, to which he was bound by his 
vocation as a priest of the church.* 

From this time Louis Gaufridi felt an extreme 
pleasure in reading the magical book, and it always 
had the effect of bringing the demon to attend 



upon him. At the end of two or three days the 
agreement was arranged and completed, and, it 
having been fairly written on parchment, the priest 
signed it with his blood. The tempter then told 
him that, whenever he breathed on maid or woman, 
provided his breath reached their nostrils, they 
would immediately become desperately in love with 
him. He soon made a trial of the demon's gift, and 
used it so copiously, that he became in a short time 
a general object of attraction to the women of the 
district He said that he often amused himself with 
exciting their passions, when he had no intention 
of requiting them, and he declared that he had 
already made more than a thousand victims. 

At length he took an extraordinary fancy to the 
young Magdalen de la Palude ; but he found her 
difficult of approach on account of the watchfulness 
of her mother, and he only overcame the difficulty 
by breathing on the mother before he seduced the 
daughter. He thus gained his purpose, took the 
girl to the cave in the manner she had already 
described, and became so much attached to her 
that he often repeated his charm on her to make 
her more devoted in her love. Three days after 
their first visit to the cave, he gave her a familiar 
named Esmodes. Finding her now perfectly de- 
voted to his will, he determined to marry her to 
Belzebub, the prince of the demons, and she readily 
agreed to his proposal. He immediately called the 
demon prince, who appeared in the form of a hand- 
some gentleman ; and she then renounced her bap- 
tism and Christianity, signed the agreement with 
her blood, and received the demon's mark. When 



the book of magic and the various agreements, vrhich 
Gaufridi said he had preserved, were sought for, 
they were not forthcoming; but he got over this 
difficulty by stating that he had burnt the one, 
when under fear of arrest, and that the evil one had 
carried away the others. He declared further, that 
he had had intercourse with sister Magdalen sinc^ 
she was at the Sainte Baume ; that he had often 
been at Sabbaths at the Baume de Bolland, the 
BltUme de Loubieres, and other places in the moun- 
tains about, and that two or three times he had 
wished that these meetings should be held at th^ 
8ainte Baume. Once the devil had sent him to 
fetch sister Magdalen thence, and he declared that 
he had dragged her from one place to another 
through all the woods around 

The priest gave an account of the v Sabbaths, at 
which he was a regular attendant. When he was 
ready to go — ^it was usually at night — ^he either went 
to the open window of his chamber, or left the 
chamber, locking the door, and proceeded into the 
open air. There Lucifer made his appearance, and 
took him in aai instant to their place of meeting? 
where the orgies of the witches and sorcerers last-ed 
usually from three to four hours. Gaufridi divided 
the victims of the evil one into three classes, — ^the 
masques^ (perhaps the novices,) the sorcerers, and 
the magicians. On arriving at the meeting, they all 
worshipped the demon, according to their several 
ranks, the masques falling flat on their faces, the 
sorcerers kneeling with their heads and bodies 
humbly bowed down, and the magicians, who stood 
highest in importance, only kneeling. After this, 


they all went through the formality of denying God 
and the saints. Then they had a diabolical service 
in burlesque of that of the church, at which the 
evil one served as priest in a violet chasuble ; the 
elevation of the demoii hoste was announced by a 
wooden bell, and the sacrament itself was made of 
unleaven bread. The scenes which followed resem- 
bled those of other witch-meefings. Gaufridi ac- 
knowledged that he took Magdalen thither, and that 
he made her swallow magical " characters,'" that were 
to increase her love to him ; yet he proved unfaith- 
ful to her at these Sabbaths with a multitude* ol 
persons, and among the rest, with " a princess of 
Friesland."' The unhappy sorcerer confessed, among 
other things, that his demon was his constant com- 
panion, though generally invisible to all but him- 
self, and that he only left him when he entered the 
church of the Capuchins to perform his religious 
duties, and then he waited for him outside the 

Gaufridi was tried before the court of parliament 
of Provence, at Aix. His confession, the declara- 
tions of the demons, the marks on his body, and 
other circumstances, left him no hope of mercy ; 
judgment was given against him on the last day of 
April, and the same day it was put in execution- 
He was burnt alive. 

All true Catholics had derived so much edification 
from the declarations of the demons of Aix, that 
cases of possession became more frequent, especially 
among the nuns. Among the more remarkable 
ca^es, we may merely cite those of the nuns of Lou- 
viers, in 1643, and of the nuns of Aussonne, in 


1662. I will, however, content myself with one 
more narrative of this class, which is perhaps the 
most extraordinary of them all. We are left to 
guess at the reasons for the persecution of Louis 
Graufridi, but our next chapter will detail a history 
of which the motives were more apparent. 





Soon after the period of the persecution of Louis 
Gaufridi, there was in the town of Loudun in the 
ancient province of Anjou a priest named Urbain 
Grandier, a canon of the church there, and a man 
who was as remarkable for his learning and talent 
as for his handsome person and courtly manners. 
He was bom towards the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tury at Bouvere near Sable, at which latter place 
his father Pierre Grandier exercised the profession 
of a notary, and his uncle, Claude Grandier, was, 
like himself, a priest. Urbain Grandier had studied 
in the college of the Jesuits at Bordeaux, had dis- 
tinguished himself so much by his attainments 'and 
by his eloquence that he became very popular at 
Loudun, where he obtained two benefices, as a 
preacher. This excited the jealousy and hatred of 
his brother clergy, whom his proud and resentful 
spirit hindered him from conciliating. He seems 
to have given them some hold upon him by certain 


irregularities in his life, especially by his familiari- 
ties with the other sex, which were a matter of 
scandal in the town. Loudun, moreover, contained 
a large population of Protestants, and Urbain Gran- 
dier perhaps had a leaning towards them. 

Between the year 1620 and 1629, Urbain Gran- 
dier had had several serious quarrels and some law- 
suits with the clergy of Loudun. A priest named 
Mounier had published libels upon him, and 
Urbain prosecuted and obtained a judgment 
against him, and exacted the full penalty with un- 
feeling rigour. He had gained an action against 
another priest named Mignon, a canon of the 
church of St. Croix, in a matter relating to a house 
which the latter claimed, and he had made Mignon 
his personal enemy by the offensive manner in 
which he exulted in his defeat. By such pro- 
ceedings as these, and by his real or reputed 
amours, he had gained many enemies. In 1629, he 
was accused before the court of the bishop of 
Poitiers of scandalous intrigues, and even of having 
secretly introduced women into his church for im- 
proper purposes, and he was condemned by the 
official to be ejected from all his benefices. But some 
irregularity having been discovered in the proceed- 
ings, Urbain appealed, and obtained a decree of 
parliament, referring the case to the presidial of 
Poitiers, and he was acquitted of the charges 
brought against him, which his accusers were com- 
pelled to retract. This judgment was delivered 
on the 25th of May, 1631. It increased the exas- 
peration of his enemies to such a degree, that the 
archbishop of' Bordeaux, as Urbain's friend, ad- 


vised him to quit Loudim, and establish himself in 
some other place out of the way of his persecutors. 
But the angry priest was too proud and resentful 
to listen to counsel like thia 

In the year 1626, a small convent of Ursuline 
nuns had been established at Loudun, and being 
very poor, they rented a private house, and were 
allowed to support themselves by taking as boarders 
a few young ladies whom they educated. Their 
first confessor or " director of conscience,'' was a 
priest named Mussaut, who died soon after the 
acquittal of Urbain Grrandier by the presidial of 
Poitiers. Urbain, rather imprudently, became a 
candidate for Mussaut's place, but was rejected, it 
was afterwards said, on account of his scandalous 
character. The office of director of conscience to 
the tJrsulines was given to his old enemy Mignon. 
This afiair seems to have caused a revival of animo- 
sities which might otherwise have sunk into obli- 

Meanwhile the young scholars of the convent 
appear to have felt dull in the company of their 
teachers, and they determined to amuse themselves 
with frightening them. For this purpose they left 
their beds by night, made dreadful noises about the 
house, and took advantage of secret passages and 
peculiarities they had discovered in the building to 
play a variety of pranks, which they laid to the 
charge of the ghost of the late spiritual director, 
father Mussaut. The nuns communicated their 
terrors to Mussaut's successor, who soon suspected 
the intrigue ; he saw to what advantage it might 
be turned, and obtained the confidence of the girls 









who were carrying it on. He not only encouraged 
them to proceed, but he soon brought the nuns 
themselves to join in his plans. 

Mignon now proceeded more systematically in 
instructing his patients in the parts they were to 
act, and taught them to counterfeit all the strange 
postures and contortions of one supposed to be pos- 
sessed. He gained the nuns to his purposes, not 
only by holding out to them the hope of enriching 
and glorifying their order, but by telling them that 
they would be the means of confounding and per- 
haps converting the numerous heretics in and 
about the town of Loudun, and he assured them 
that Urbain Grandier was himself a secret heretic. 
As far as we can judge, the motive which had most 
weight with the nuns was the prospect of enriching 
themselves by this " pious fraud,'" and the superior 
of the convent entered warmly into the design. 
Having prepared everything for his purpose, 
Mignon sent for a bigoted priest of the neighbour- 
hood of Loudun, named Pierre Barre, a man who 
had assumed the character of a saint, to support 
which he performed a variety of extravagancies. With 
the assistance of this man, who was rejoiced at the 
opportunity of exhibiting the effects of his own 
holiness, Mignon began by exorcising the superior 
and two of her nuns, and they carried on their pro- 
ceedings in great secret for two or three days 
They then entered into communication with ano- 
ther priest, who bore a very indifferent character, 
and made him their messenger to two magistrates, 
whom they invited to witness the exorcising of two 
nuns of the convent of the Ursulines possessed^ as 


they said, by evil spirits. The first exhibition be- 
fore the magistrates took place on the 11th of 
October, 1 632. Before the proceedings began, Mig- 
non informed the magistrates, that the nuns had 
been troubled for some time T^th a visitation of 
spectral appearances, which had ended in some of 
them being possessed with demons. He said that 
the superior of the nuns was possessed by the 
grand demon Astaroth, and that one of the nuns 
was in the possession of another devil whose name 
was Sabulon ; and, although the nuns themselves, 
as he assured the magistrates, were totally ignorant 
of the learned languages, the demons knew all 
languages, and preferred making use of those which 
were no longer spoken. They were then ushered 
into a chamber where the superior lay in bed, and 
Mignon and his fellow exorcist began their opera- 
tions. When the patient first saw the priests and 
their companions, she appeared to be seized with 
dreadful spasms and screamed fearfully ; but under 
the hands of the exorcists she became calmer, and 
Mignon proceeded to interrogate her spirit in Latin. 
To his first question, " Propter quam causam in- 
gressus es in corpus hujus virginis f (for what 
cause did you enter the body of this virgin ?) As- 
taroth answered with the utmost docility, " Causa 
cmimositaJtis^' (from animosity.) " Fer quod pac- 
tum r (by what pact ?) said Mignon. '^ Per fioreSy' 
(by flowers,) replied the demon. " Quales ?' (what 
flowers ?) asked the priest. " Rosas'' was the reply. 
" Qais misit f (who sent them ?) " TJrhanus!' 
" Die cognomen," (tell us his surname.) To this de- 
mand the demon replied with the utmost readiness, 


■^P— *^i^«i»»W^WP 


" Grrandler/' Determined to possess all the parti- 
culars, the exorcist continued, " Die qualitatem/' 
(telL us his profession.) " Sacerdos," (a priest,) 
said the spirit. " GujiLs ecclesice f (of what church ?) 
" /S'anc^i FetT%;[ (of St Peter's.) Then said the 
priest, " Qytm persona aUulit flares f (what person 
brought the flowers ?) to which the instant reply 
was, " diaholica" (a demon.) 

With this, the fit ended, and of course the exa- 
mination could be carried on no longer. Mignon 
took the magistrates aside, and discoursed with 
them on the extraordinary scene they had wit- 
nessed, pointing out to them its resemblance to the 
afikir of Louis Gaufridi which had occurred twenty 
years before. The Romish clergy in general seemed 
inclined to believe implicitly in the possession, and 
the capuchins showed a particular animosity against 
Grandier. The laity were astonished at these ex- 
traordinary revelations, and it is not to be won- 
dered at if a great portion of them were led by the 
priests, and thus easily prejudiced against the 
accused. The calling in of the magistrates had given 
the affair more importance ; the two first invited 
had probably been selected as those most likely to 
be imposed upon by priestcraft. They were ad- 
mitted to another experiment next day, (the 32th 
of October,) and after the demon who possessed the 
superior of the convent had been duly exorcised, 
he repeated the charges against Grandier, adding 
that he was not only a priest, but magus (a ma- 
gician). On this occasion the guilty roses were 
asked for, and a bunch of those flowers were pro- 
duced and burnt before the company, but to 


m^^"^^' ■" J- ,1 


the disappointment of them all, they did not, as 
was expected, emit a noxious odour unde:f the 
action of the fire. The principal civil officers of 
the municipaHty now interfered, and on the 13th 
of October the bailli of the town, with the lieute- 
nant civil, the lieutenant criminal, the proOureur 
du roi, the lieutenant a la pr^v6te, and other offi- 
cers, went together to the convent of the UrsuUnes. 
It would appear that some of these municipal 
officers were Protestants, and the bailli, especially, 
was known as a man of good sense and justice. 
When they arrived at the house occupied by the 
nuns, they were shown into a waiting-room, where 
they were left a considerable time, until Mignon 
condescended to make his appearance, and inform 
them that the demon that morning had refused to 
answer except in private, that the examination had 
been a very extraordinary one, and that he would 
give them a report of it in writing. 

Urbain Grandier professed to despise the in- 
trigues of his enemies, but he could not help feeling 
alarmed at the formidable league which had been 
raised against him. He determined first to apply 
for protection to the spiritual power, and he hurried 
to lay his complaint before the bishop of Poitiers. 
This prelate, however, as we have seen before, was 
not friendly to Grandier, who could not obtain a 
personal audience, but was referred back to the 
civil authorities for redress. On his return to Lou- 
dun, Grandier went to the civil court, and pre- 
sented a formal charge of conspiracy against the 
priest Mignon; and on the 28th of October, the 
bailli issued a public order of the court against 

£ 2 


the calumnies of the priests. Mignon protested 
earnestly against this proceedings and the whole 
town became violently agitated by the dispute be- 
tween the priests and the civil authorities. The 
bailli followed up his decree by taking a decided 
part against the nuns, and he gave Grandier 
warning of every new step which they took. 
The priests, however, now set the civil power at 
defiance, and, preparing to act under the authority 
$)f the bishop of Poitiers, they continued their ex- 
orcisms of the nuns, and, having collected together 
a number of the least reputable medical practi- 
tioners of the place, men they knew were will- 
ing from credulity or knavery to be their tools, 
they obtained their signature to a statement of the 
truth of the possession. Upon this the bailli pub- 
licly inhibited the priests from exorcising or further 
proceeding in this case, but they again refused to 
acknowledge his jurisdiction. 

They accordingly went on exorcising more openly 
and boldly than ever. Another nun was now found 
to be possessed, and her demon confessed that he 
was Asmodeus, and that he had five companions in 
the possession of this single victim. He also de- 
clared that Urbain Grandier was the magician who 
had sent them. This occurred on the 24th of No- 
vember ; on the 25th, the civil officers, who were 
present, insisted on trying the pretended powers of 
the demons to speak all languages, and the bailli 
asked the patient what was the Hebrew word signi- 
fying water. She held down her head and mut- 
tered something, which one of the witnesses who 
stood very near her declared was a mere refusal in 


French to answer. But one of the priests, who was 
suggesting to her, insisted that she said zaquaq, 
which he declared meant in Hebrew aquam effudi ! 
On a previous occasion thej had risked an exposure 
by making the demon speak bad Latin.* They 
now, therefore, began to be more cautious, and 
carried on their examination of the demons in a 
more secret manner. At the same time they tried 
to gain the bailli over, but in vain. The confes- 
sions of the demons still turned mainly upon the 
delinquences of Grrandier, but they began also to 
talk against the huguenots, provoked no doubt by 
the incredulity of the civil magistrate& As the 
latter had exposed some of their tricks, and had 
given them considerable embarrassment, the nuns 
were now made to say in their fits that they would 
no longer give any answers in the presence of the 
bailli or other municipal officers. 

The priests now made their appeal to the bishop 
of Poitiers, who at last openly espoused their cause, 
and on the 28th of November he appointed two 
commissioners, the deans of the canons of Cham- 
pigni and of the canons of Thouars, to examine 
into this strange affair. With their countenance 
and assistance the exorcisms commenced anew, and 
when, on the 1st of December, the bailli went to 
the convent, and insisted upon being admitted to 
the examination and upon being permitted to put 
questions to the nuns when exorcised, he was re- 
fused by Barr6, who now acted as chief exorcist 

^ In allusion to their bad Latin, and to the classes in the 
schools, a wit of the day said, *' Qtte les diddles de Loudun 
VLavment etudie quejusqu'en troisiime" 


The bailli then formally forbade him to put any 
questions to the pretended demons tending to de- 
fame individuals ; but Barr6 merely replied that it 
was his intention to use his own discretion in this 
respect. The priests had now everything at their 
own will, and they were sanguine of success, when 
their plot was deranged by the unexpected an- 
nouncement that the archbishop of Bordeaux was 
on his way to Loudun. On several occasions the 
priests had declared, to explain some temporary in- 
termission of the fits, that they had succeeded in 
driving away the demons, but that they had subse- 
quently been sent back by the magician. When 
news came of the approach of the archbishop, they 
disappeared entirely, and the nuns became quiet 
and tranquil Some prudent directions given by 
the archbishop seem to have put a stop to further 
proceedings, and even Mignon and Barr6 let the 
matter drop, so that little more was heard of it. 

The Ursulines were now the sufferers. They fell 
into general discredit ; people took away their 
daughters,* and they fell into distress. They laid 
the blame of their sufferings on their director, Mig- 
non, who had led them into the expectation of de- 
riving great profit from their imposture. 

Before the embers of this flame were quite ex- 
tinct, an unexpected circumstance rekindled them. 
Among the pamphlets which had appeared against 

* Tallemant des R^aux, who has preserved so many anec- 
dotes of this period, tells us that Le Couldray Montpensier, 
who had two daughters hoarding with these nuns, immediately 
took them away, and had them well whipped, which he found 
an efficacious method of driving out the demons. 


cardinal Richelieu^ who then ruled the destinies of 
France, was a very bitter satire, entitled, in allu- 
sion to some low intrigue of the cardinals con- 
nected with this town, La C&rchnnih'e de Loudun. 
M. de Laubardemont, a creature of the cardinal, 
who at this time held the office of master of the 
requests, was sent to Loudun, in 1633, to direct 
the demolition of the castle of that place. Mignon 
and his fellow-plotters immediately obtained an in- 
troduction to this minister, and they not only re- 
counted to him the affair of the nuns, in a manner 
very disadvantageous to Urbain Grandier and his 
friends, but they persuaded him that Urbain was 
the author of the satire just mentioned. Laubarde- 
mont returned to Paris, and communicated what he , 
had heard to the cardinal, who seldom spared the 
authors of personal attacks on himself when they 
were in his power, and who is said to have been 
urged on to sacrifice the cure of Loudun by his 
confidential adviser, the celebrated pere Joseph. 
The result was, that Laubardemont returned to 
Loudun, commissioned by the king to inquire into 
the possession of the nuns, and into the charges 
against Grandier. He arrived at Loudun with this 
commission on the 6th of December, 1633. 

The case now assumed a much more serious coun- 
tenance. The demons returned to the sisters with 
redoubled fury, and with an increase of numbers, 
and nearly all the nuns were attacked by them. 
Mignon and his fellow-priest had already got up 
an exhibition of exorcism for Laubardemont before 
that functionary's departure for Paris, and he 
brought back with him a writ for the apprehension 


of Grandier, in which were blazoned forth all the 
crimes which had ever been imputed, rightly or 
wrongly, to that individual Upon this he was 
thrown into prison, and his house searched for ma- 
gical books, which were not found. Two only 
proofs against him, considered of any importance, 
were discovered among his papers, some French 
verses, which are characterised in the procis verbal 
as being sales et impudiques — a somewhat strange 
accusation in that licentious age, but they perhaps 
served to corroborate the suspicion that Grandier 
was the author of the libel on the cardinal — ^and a 
book which he had written, but never published, 
against the celibacy of the clergy. At the begin- 
ning of the year a series of examinations were 
taken, and being committed to writing and duly 
attested, Laubardemont carried them to Paris to 
lay them before the minister. He then received a 
new commission from the king to act as supreme 
judge of this cause, independent of all other juris- 
diction whatever ; and he returned to Loudun with 
this extensive power on the 9th of April, 1 634. 

Laubardemont began by selecting as judges a 
certain number of persons from the local magis- 
tracy who were most likely to be devoted to his will, 
and such physicians and others were chosen to as- 
sist in the examinations as were known to bear en- 
mity to the accused. The numerous victims of the 
pretended possession were now distributed into two 
bands, for the convenience of the exorcists. On the 
23rd of April the superior of the nuns declared 
that the demons who possessed her had entered her 
in the forms of a cat, a dog, a siag, and a goat. On 


the 24th, she declared the Grandier had the demon's 
marks on his body. On the authority of this state- 
ment, next day a surgeon, selected as being the bit- 
terest of his enemies, was sent to Grandier in his 
prison to search for his marks, and the miserable 
victim was stripped and treated with extreme inhu- 
manity. He ended by discovering, as he pretended, 
five marks, or insensible spots. The demons were 
not always very accurate in the information they 
gave to the exorcists. When questioned as to Gran- 
dier s books of magic, they indicated a certain 
demoiselle to whom he had entrusted them before 
his arrest, and in whose house they said that the 
books would be found. Laubardemont and others 
went immediately to the house indicated, which 
they examined from top to bottom, but they found 
no books of the description of those of which they 
were in search. They returned, and scolded the 
demons for their false information. The latter pre- 
tended that a niece of the demoiseUe had carried 
them away after the information had been given. 
They then went to the niece, but they found that 
she was at church, and that she had been so occu- 
pied all day that it was impossible she could have 
acted as the demons stated. But the exorcists were 
not discouraged by a few slips like these, and they 
were especially active in their examinations at the 
beginning of the month of May. Some new demons 
then appeared on the scene, under the names of 
Eazas, Cerberus, Beherit, &c. Other statements of 
the demons were found to be false, and the conspi- 
rators had much difficulty in concealing some of the 

E 5 


tricks they employed. But all these difficxUties 
were passed over as matters of little moment. 

The examinations were now exhibited publicly in 
the church, and a crowd of people, both Catholics 
and Huguenots, were always present The matter 
had already created so much sensation throughout 
France, that many people of quality came from 
Paris and other parts, so that all the hostelries in 
the town were filled with visitors. Among the rest 
was Quillet, the court poet, who fell into temporary 
disgrace by his imprudence on this occasion. At 
one of the exhibitions, Satan, speaking from the 
mouth of one of the sisters, threatened that he 
would toss up to the ceiling of the church any one 
who should dare to deny the possession of the nunsL 
Quillet took him on his word, and was not tossed to 
the ceiling, but he provoked so much the anger of 
Laubardemont, that he is said to have found it ad- 
visable to make a journey to Rome. On another 
occasion the devil boasted that he would take the 
protestant minister of Loudun in his pulpit and 
carry him up to the top of the church steeple, but 
he did not put his threat in execution. This 
same protestant minister was present at one of the 
examinations, when the priests, who were adminis- 
tering the consecrated host, told him contemptu- 
ously, to show their superiority over the Huguenots, 
that he dared not put his fingers into the mouths 
of the nuns as they did. He is said to have replied, 
that "he had no familiarity with the devil, and 
would not preiJume to play with him." The priests 
made the nuns utter a great mass of nonsense, and 


much that was profane and indecent. They caused 
them to say many things irreverent even to those 
who conducted the prosecution, which was consi- 
dered as proving how little they were influenced by 
them. One day the devil, by the mouth of one of 
the sisters, closed the examination by declaring, 
" M, de Lavbardemont est cocu," In the evening, as 
usual, Laubardemont took the written report, wrote 
under these words as a, matter of course, " Cfe que 
fatteste ^re vrai," and signed it with his nama 
When the depositions were sent to Paris, this cir- 
cumstance was the source of no little amusement at 

As the trial went on, doubts and ridicule began to 
be thrown upon it, which alarmed the compiissioners, 
and it was resolved to hasten the proceedings. 
Every precaution was taken to secure the condem- 
nation of Grandier. His brother, an advocate of 
parliament, was accused of sorcery and placed under 
arrest, that he might not be capable of appealing. 
Every circumstance that told in favour of the ac- 
cused wag carefully suppressed, while whatever 
could be turned against him was magnified into 
undue importance. Those who expressed any doubts 
were threatened with prosecution ; and the bishop 
of Poitiers now came forward again, and not only 
gave the prosecution the full advantage of his eccle- 
siastical authority, but he caused placards to be ex- 
hibited about the town forbidding any one to speak 
disrespectfully of the nuns. This at once shut the 
mouths of all Grandier's friends. 

His enemies had, however, another embarrassing 
circumstance to contend witL Some of the actors 


appear to have become ashamed of their parts, and 
to have been surprised with scruples of conscience. 
At the beginning of July, sister Clara declared be- 
fore the multitude assembled in the church, that all 
her confessions for some months past had been mere 
falsehood and imposture, which had been put into 
her mouth bj Mignon and the priests, and she 
rushed from the church and endeavoured to make 
her escape ; but she was seized and brought back. 
This, howeyer, did not hinder another nun, sister 
Agnes, from following her example, and she made a 
similar declaration. The commissioner immediately 
adopted measures for hindering the recurrence of 
such accidents, and the priests declared that it was 
only one of the demon's vagaries, and that the unruly 
patients were at that moment under his influence. 
They carried their measures of intimidation so far, 
that they accused not only a sister of Qrandier, but 
the wife of the bailli of Loudun, of being witches, 
intending thus at one blow to strike fear into his 
friends and relations. And they declared openly 
that the attempt to throw discredit on the proceed- 
ings was a mere trick of the Huguenots, who were 
afraid that the miracles performed by the priests 
on this occasion would throw discredit upon them. 

Thus, overruling every form of law and justice, 
did the curb's enemies hurry on to their object. As 
soon as it was known that the all-powerful cardinal 
was resolved on the destruction of the victim, few 
were bold enough to stand up in his defence. On 
the 18th of August, 1634, the judges assembled in 
the convent of the Carmelites, and on the faith of 
evidence testified by Astaroth, the chief of the 


devils, and a host of other demons,* they pronounced 
judgment on Urbain Grandier, convicted of magic 
and sorcery, to the effect that he should perform 
penance before the public, and that then he should 
be conducted to the stake, and burnt alive along 
with his magical covenants and characters, (these 
were probably invented,) and with his manuscript 
treatise on the celibacy of the clergy. The sentence 
was put in execution the same day. 

Thus perished another victim of superstition 
adopted as the instrument of personal revenge. The 
process of the cure of Loudun made an extraordi- 
nary noise, the bigotted priests holding it up as a 
miraculous proof of the truth and efficacy of the 
Romish faith, while the Protestants decried it as 
loudly as an infamous inposture. £ven in England 
it excited considerable interest. It gave rise to many 
publications in France, where also the evidence was 
analysed and it weakness exposed, and the whole 
affair soon fell into discredit. Some years after- 
wards, the materials of this tragic story were col- 
lected together and arranged in a small volume 
printed at Amsterdam, in 1693, under the titl^ of 
the Histoire des Didbles de Loudun. 

* The original depositions, with the autograph signatures 
of the demons (!), are still preserved among the manuscripts in 
the national library in Paris. The signatures are strange 
scrawls, evidentiy written by trembling hands guided by others. 




There was something extraordinary in the sudden 
prevalence of sorcery during the years 1610, 1611, 
and 1612, through most of the countries of western 
Europe. It was in the last of these years that 
occurred one of the most romantic, if not one of the 
most remarkable, cases of witchcraft in England. 

One of the wildest districts in Lancashire, even 
at the present day, is that known as the forest of 
Pendle, on the borders of Yorkshire. Above it 
rises the dark and lofty mountain kngwn as Pendle 
hill, from the declivity of which the forest extended 
over a descent of about five miles to a barren and 
dreary tract called the water of Pendle. The view 
from the summit of the hill was grand and extensive, 
and near at hand beneath lay the splendid remains of 
the abbey of Whalley. The tract included under the 
name of the forest was barren and desolate, thinly 
inhabited, and its population very rude and uncul- 
tivated. On a brow of the descent from Pendle 


hill, at a considerable distance from any other 
habitation, stood a solitary and deserted building, 
of some antiquity, no doubt in ruins, known popu- 
larly as the Malkin tower. It was inhabited at the 
time of which we are speaking by an old woman, 
whose real name was Elizabeth Southernes, but 
who was better known in the neighbourhood by 
that of old Demdike. She was at this time about 
eighty years of age, and exhibited all the characte- 
teristics of a confirmed witch in their most exagge- 
rated forms. She had a son named Christopher, 
and a daughter named Elizabeth, who married a 
labourer of the Pendle district, named John Device. 
The Devices had three children, James, Alizon, and 
Jennet, the latter being, in 1612, nine years of age. 
It is one of the doctrines of sorcery, that the de- 
scendants of a witch follow, from a sort of inevit- 
able necessity, the same profession, and all the 
members of this family then living, through the 
three generations, bore the same evil reputation. 

They were not, however, alone in their dealings 
with the evil one, for the district of Pendle was at 
this time little better famed in the north of England 
than the territory of Labourd in France. There 
was another :^amily which held a high rank among 
the witches of Pendle, the principal member of 
which was Anne Whittle, who went by the popular 
name of old Chattox, and was of the same age as old 
Demdike ; she had an only daughter named Anne, 
who was married to Thomas Redferne. ' Old Demdike 
was the senior or queen of the witches of Pendle 
and the neighbourhood, but she had a jealous rival 


in old Chattox, and the animosity created by their 
rivalry was shared by their families. 

Mother Demdike, however, had long reigned su- 
preme in her quarters, the terror of her neighbours. 
According to her own confession, she had been a 
witch fifty years, (the printed book says twenty, 
but there are other circumstances mentioned which 
show this was a misprint.) Her own account of her- 
self, when brought to trial was, that at the period 
just mentioned, she was one day ''coming home- 
ward from begging, when there met her near unto 
a stone-pit in Goldshaw, in the said forest of 
Pendle, a spirit or devil, in the shape of a boy, the 
one .half of his coat black, and the other brown, 
who bade her stay, sajdng to her, that if she would 
give him her soul, she should have anything that 
she would request Whereupon she demanded his 
name, and the spirit answered his name was Tibb. 
And so in hope of such gain as was promised by 
the said devil or Tibb, she was contented to give 
her soul to the said spirit. And for the space of 
five or six years next after, the said spirit or devil 
appeared at sundry times unto her about daylight- 
gate, [twiKght,] always bidding her stay, and ask- 
ing her what she would have or do. To whom she 
replied, nay, nothing; for she said she wanted 
nothing yet. And so about the end of the said six 
years, upon a sabbath day, in the morning, this 
examinate, having a little child upon her knee, and 
she being in a slumber, the said spirit appeared 
unto her in the likeness of a brown dog, forcing 
himself to her knee, to get blood under her left 


ann ; and she being without any apparel saving her 
smock, the said devil did get blood under her left 
arm And she awaking, said, * Jesus, save my 
child y but had no power, nor could not say, Jesus 
save herself! whereupon the brown dog vanished 
out of her sight ; after which she was almost stark 
mad for the space of eight weeks." 

The child here spoken of must have been Eliza- 
beth Device, one of the heroines of the present 
history, who in due time was betrayed by the evil 
one, and made a witch by her mother. It was the 
old woman, also, who inducted her grand-children, 
or was the means of introducing them, to the same 
evil and dangerous calling. James Device, the 
eldest of these, said in his confession, " that upon 
Sheare Thursday was two years (Easter-eve, 1610,) 
his grandmother, Elisabeth Southemes, alias Dem- 
dike, did bid him, this examinate, go to the church 
to receive the communion, (the next day after being 
Good Friday,) and then not eat the bread the minister 
gave him, but to bring it and deliver it to such a 
thing as should meet him in his way homeward. 
Notwithstanding her persuasion, this examinate did 
eat the bread," and so in his coming homeward some 
forty roodes off the said church, there met him a 
thing in a shape of a hare, who spoke unto this 
examinate, and asked him whether he had brought 
the bread that his grandmother had bidden him, 
or no. Whereupon this examinate answered, he 
had not ; and thereupon the said thing threatened 
to pull this examinate in pieces ; and so this ex- 
aminate thereupon marked himself to God, and so 
the said thing vanished out of this examinate^s 


sight And within some four days after that, 
there appeared in this examinate's sight, hard by 
the new church in Pendle, a thing like unto a 
brown dog, who asked this examinate to give him 
his soul, and he should be revenged of any whom 
he would ; whereunto the examinate answered, 
that his soul was not his to give, but was his Sa- 
viour Jesus Christ's ; but as much as was in him 
this examinate to give he was contented he should 
have it And within two or three days after, this 
examinate went to the Carre Hall, and upon some 
speeches betwixt mistress Towneley and this exami- 
nate, she charging this examinate and his said 
mother to have stolen some turves of her, bad him 
pack the doores ; and withall as he went forth of 
the door, the said mistress Towneley gave him a 
knock between the shoulders. And about a day 
or two after that, there appeared unto this exami- 
nate in his way a thing like unto a black dog, 
who put this examinate in mind of the said mis- 
tress Towneley's falling out with him, and bad him 
make a picture of clay like unto the said mistress 
Towneley ; and he dried it the same night by the 
fire, and within a day after, he, this examinate, be- 
gan to crumble the said picture, every day some, 
for the space of a week ; and within two days after 
all was crumbled away, the said mistress Towneley 
died And he further saith, that in Lent last one 
John Duckworth of the Launde promised this ex- 
aminate an old shirt ; and within a fortnight 
after, this examinate went to the said Duckworth's 
house, and demanded the said old shirt ; but the 
said Duckworth denied him thereof And going 


out of the said house, the said spirit Dandy ap- 
peared unto this examinate, and said, ' Thou didst 
touch the said Duckworth/ Whereunto this exa- 
minate answered, he did not touch him. * Yes,^ said 
the spirit again, * thou didst touch him, and there- 
fore I have power of him." Whereupon this exami- 
nate agreed with the said spirit, and then wished 
the said spirit to kill the said Duckworth : and 
within one week, then next after, Duckworth 

His sister Alizon^s account of her conversion to 
witchcraft was as follows. She said, " that about 
two years agon, her grandmother (called Elisabeth 
Southernes, alias old Demdike) did sundry times in 
going or walking together as they went begging, 
persuade and advise this examinate to let a devil 
or familiar appear unto her ; and that she, this ex- 
aminate, would let him suck at some part of her, 
and she might have and do what sh^ would And 
she further saith, that one John Nutter, of the 
Bulhole in Pendle aforesaid, had a cow which was 
sick, and requested this examinate's grandmother 
to amend the said cow ; and her said grandmother 
said she would, and so her said grandmother about 
ten of the clocke in the night, desired this exami- 
nate to lead her forth, which this examinate did, 
she beijig then blind ; and her grandmother did 
remain about half an hour forth ; and this exami- 
nate's sister did fetch her in again ; but what she 
did when she was so forth, this examinate cannot 
tell. But the next morning this examinate heard 
that the said cow was dead. And this examinate 
verily thinketh that her sai J grandmother did be- 


-witch the said cow to death. And further, this 
examinate saith, that about two years agon, this 
examinate having gotten a piggin full of blue milk 
by begging, brought it into the house of her grand- 
mother, where (this examinate going forth pre- 
sently, and staying about half an hour) there was 
butter to the quantity of a quartern of a pound in 
the said milk, and the quantity of the said milk 
still remaining ; and her grandmother had no butter 
in the house when this examinate went forth, 
during which time this examinate's grandmother 
8tm lay in her bed And forther. this examinate 
saith, that Richard Baldwin of "Weethead, within 
the forest of Pendle, about two years ago, fell out 
with this examinate's grandmother, and so would 
not let her come upon his land : and about four or 
five days then next after, her said grandmother did 
request this examinate to lead her forth about t«n 
of the clocke in the night, which this examinate 
accordingly did, and she stayed forth then about an 
houre, and this examinate's sister fetched her in 
again. And this examinate heard the next mom- * 
ing that a woman child of the said Richard Bald- 
win was fallen sick ; and as this examinate did 
then hear, the said child did languish afterwards by 
the space of a year, or thereabouts, and died. 
And this examinate verily thinketh that her said 
grandmother did bewitch the said child to death.'' 

The youngest of the Devices, "Jennet, a child of 
nine years, was as yet too young to be a witch her- 
self, but she had been a careful watcher of the 
doings of her relatives, and appears to have been 
usually admitted to their secret meetings. 


Old Demdike must certainly have obtained the 
special favour of the evil one, if it was to be gained 
by the number of her converts, for she was not only 
the perverter of those of her own party, but of 
those of the rival faction also ; for old Chattox, her 
equal in age and decrepitude, if not in power, con- 
fessed that it was mother Demdike who first se- 
duced her to listen to the tempter. The records of 
the court testify that '^ the said Anne Whittle, alias 
Chattox, said, that about fourteen years past she 
entered, through the wicked persuasions and coun- 
sel of Elizabeth Southemes, alias Demdike, and was 
seduced to condescend and agree to become subject 
unto that devilish abominable profession of witch- 
craft. Soon after which, the devil appeared unto 
her in the likeness of a man, about midnight, at 
the house of the said Demdike ; and thereupon the 
sjbid Demdike and she went forth of the said house 
unto him ; whereupon the said wicked spirit moved 
this examinate that she would become his subject 
and give her soul unto him. The which at first she 
refused to assent unto ; but after, by the great per- 
suasions made by the said Demdike, she yielded to 
be at his commandment and appointment. Where- 
upon the said wicked spirit then said unto her, that 
he must have one part ef her body for him to suck 
upon ; the which she denied then to grant unto 
him ; and withall asked him, what part of her body 
he would have for that use ; who said, he would 
have a place of her right side, near to her ribs, for 
him to suck upon ; whereunto she assented. And 
she further said, that at the same time there was a 
thing in the likeness of a spotted bitch, that came 


with the said spirit unto the said Demdike, which 
then did speak unto her in this examinate's hearing, 
and said, that she should have gold, silver, and 
worldly wealth, at her will ; and at the same time 
she saith there was victuals, viz. flesh, butter, 
cheese, bread, and drink, and bid them eat 
enough. And after their eating, the devil called 
Fancy, and the other spirit calling himself Tibb, 
carried the remnant away. And she saith, that 
although they did eat, they were Viever the fuller 
nor better for the same ; and that at their said 
banquet the said spirits gave them light to see what 
they did, although they neither had fire nor candle- 
light; and that they were both she spirits and 

Anne Redfeme, mother Chattox's daughter, held 
a special rank among these miserable people, for 
she was the most skilful of them all in making 
those terrible instruments of evil, the images of 
clay. Old Demdike, in her confession, declared, 
" that about half a year before Robert Nutter died, 
as this examinate thinketh, this examinate went to 
the house of Thomas Redferne, which was about 
midsummer, as this examinate remembereth it 
And there, within three yards of the east end of 
the said house, she saw the said Anne Whittle, alias 
Chattox, and Anne Redferne, wife of the said Tho- 
mas Redfeme, and daughter of the said Anne 
Whittle, alias Chattox, the one of the one side of 
the ditch, and the other on the other, and two 
pictures of clay or marie lying by them ; and the 
third picture the said Anne Whittle, alias Chattox, 
was making ; and the said Anne Redfeme, her said 


daughter, wrought her clay or marie to make the 
third picture withall. And this examinate passing 
by them, the said spirit, called Tibb, in the shape 
of a black cat, appeared unto her this examinate, 
and said, ' Turn back again, and do as they do/ 
To whom this examinate said, ^ What are they 
doing f Whereunto the said spirit said, * They are 
making three pictures/ Whereupon she asked 
whose pictures they were. Whereunto the said 
spirit said, ' They are the pictures of Christopher 
Nutter, Robert Nutter, and Mary, wife of the said 
Robert Nutter/ But this examinate denying to go 
back to help them to make the pictures aforesaid, 
the said spirit, seeming to be angry therefore, shove 
or pushed this examinate into the ditch, and so 
shed the milk which this examinate had in a can 
or kit, and so thereupon the spirit at that time 
vanished out of this examinate's sight Biit pre- 
sently after that, the said spirit appeared to this 
examinate again in the shape of a hare, and so 
went with her about a quarter of a mile, but said 
nothing to this examinate, nor sh6 to it^' 

The two factions under these two rivals in mis- 
chief — ^the Erictho and Canidia, as they have been 
aptly termed, of the forest of Pendle — were the 
terror of the neighbourhood. Those who were not 
witches themselves, were glad to buy on any terms 
the favour of mother Demdike and her familiar Tibb, 
or that of mother Chattox and her imp Fancy ; and 
those who offended the two powerful sorceresses or 
their friends, or who failed to propitiate them,- were 
sure to meet with some kind of severe punishment. 
Several of their deeds are recounted in the exami- 



nations taken down at the trials. Their vengeance 
was often the result of very trifling provocations, 
and they at times exerted their blighting influence 
without any provocation at all In her second exa- 
mination, Alizon Device, after telling the manner of 
her seduction by her grandmother, says that not 
long after, " being walking, towards the Rough-Lee, 
in a close of one John Robinson's, there appeared 
unto her a thing like unto a black dog, speaking 
unto her, and desiring her to give him her soul, 
and he would give her power to do anything she 
would : whereupon this examinate being there- 
withall inticed, and setting her down, the said 
black dog did with his mouth (as this examinate 
then thought) suck at her breast, a little below her 
paps, which place did remain blue half a yeare next 
after; which said black dog did not appear to 
this examinate, until the eighteenth day of March 
last ; at which time this examinate met with a 
pedlar on the highway called Colne-field, near unto 
Colne ; and this examinate demanded of the said 
pedlar to buy some pins of him; but the said 
pedlar sturdily answered that he would not loose 
his pack ; and so this examinate parting with him, 
presently there appeareth to this examinate the 
black dog which appeared unto her as before; 
which black dog spake unto her in English, saying, 
' What wouldst thou have me to do with yonder 
man ?' To whom this examinate said, * What canst 
thou do at him V And the dog answered again, 
^ I can lame him/ Whereupon this examinate an- 
swered, and said to the said black dog, * Lame him ;' 
and before the pedlar was gone forty rods further. 


he fell down lame; and this examinate then went 
after the said pedlar ; and in a house about the dis- 
tance aforesaid, he was lying lame/\ 

We have seen that Alizon Device accused her 
grandmother Demdike of causing the death of a 
daughter of Richard Baldwin, the miliar, about two 
years before the time of her arrest The feud between 
them seems to have been lasting, for the old woman 
confessed that, a little before the Christmas of 1611, 
her daughter Elizabeth Device had been employed "in 
helping the folks at the mill," and asked her to call 
upon Richard Baldwin to demand some remuneration 
for her work. Probably Elizabeth Device had given 
some cause of anger to the miliar, for, as 6ld Dem- 
dike, led by her granddaughter Alizon, (for she was 
herself blind,) approached his house, he met them, 
and applying certain opprobrious epithets to both, 
threatened he would bum the one and hang the 
other unless they went their ways. As they were 
passing the next hedge, the old witch's familiar 
.Tibb made his appearance, and obtained a commis- 
sion to take vengeance " of the miliar or his.'' What 
that vengeance was, we are not informed. 

As far as we can discover from the facts deposed 
at the trial, the hostility between mother Demdike 
and mother Chattox arose from the depredations of 
the latter or of her family, which happened about 
the close of the reign of queen Elizabeth. Eliza- 
beth Device was robbed, and some of the articles 
stolen were found immediately afterwards on the per- 
son of Anne, the daughter of Chattox, (she was not at 
this time married to Redferne,) and reclaimed. The 
anger of mother Chattox was now gr,eat against the 



Devices, and, she being apparently powerless against 
old Demdike and her blood, her son-in-law John De- 
vice, the husband of Elizabeth, became so alarmed for 
his own safety, that he covenanted with Chattox to 
pay her yearly a measure of meal on condition that she 
should not hurt him or his goods by her charms. 
"This,'' said Alizon, " was yearly paid, until the year 
which her father died in, which was about eleven 
years since ; her father, upon his then death-bead, 
taking it that the said Anne Whittle, alicis Chat- 
tox, did bewitch him to death, because the said 
meal was not paid the last year I" 

Many other persons seem to have been gradually 
drawn into this feud, among whom were some 
branches of the Nutters, a family rather extensively 
spread among the lesser gentry and yeomanry of 
this district. The Redfemes were tenants of the 
Nutters of Pendle in the time of old Robert Nutter, 
whose wife, Elizabeth Nutter, had employed mother 
Chattox to effect the destruction of her own grand- 
son, known as " young Robert Nutter,'' in order that 
her husband's lands might go to some member of 
the same family who stood higher in her favour. 
This circumstance we learn from the confession of 
mother Chattox herself, who tells us, that " Eliza- 
beth Nutter, wife to old Robert Nutter, did request 
this examinate, and Loomeshaw's wife of Burley, 
and one Jane Boothman of the same, who are now 
both dead, to get young Robert Nutter his death, if 
they could, all being together then at that time, to 
that end, that if Robert were dead, then the women 
their cousins might have the land ; by whose per- 
suasion they all consented unto it After which 


time^ this e:£aimnafe's son-in-law Thomas Redfeme 
did persuade this examinate not to kill or hurt the 
said Robert Nutter ; for which persuasion the said 
Loomeshaw's wife had like to have killed the said 
Redfeme, but that one Mr. Baldwyn (the late school- 
master at Coin) did by his learning stay the said 
Loomeshaw's wife, and therefor had a capon from 

Baldwyn the schoolmaster, was probably a " white 

Robert Nutter was thus saved from death, but 
his fate was only deferred, for not long after, as mo- 
ther Chattox further informs us, Robert Nutter 
who was probably ignorant of the plot from which 
he had already escaped, " did desire her daughter, 
Redferne's wife, to have his will of her, being then 
in Redferne's house ; but the said Redferne's wife 
denied the said Robert Whereupon the said Ro- 
bert seeming to be greatly displeased therewith, in 
a great anger took his horse an/went away, saying in 
a great rage, that if ever the ground came to him she 
should never dwell upon his land.'' Anne Redfeme 
told her mother of the threat and the circumstance 
which had given rise to it, and the latter imme- 
diately consulted her familiar Fancy, " who came to 
her in the likeness of a man, in a parcel of ground 
called the Launde, asking this examinate what she 
would have him to do ; and this examinate bade 
him go and revenge her of the said Robert Nutter/' 
The result was the death not only of Robert Nutter, 
but of his father, Christopher Nutter, the particu- 
lars of which were told at the trial by young Ro- 
bert's brother John and his sister Margaret 

p 2 


Elizabeth Nutter had now fully obtained her de- 
sire, and the Redfernes were allowed to remain in 
their house. Some years after, however, we still 
find hostility existing between the Redfernes and the 
Nutters of Pendle. Anthony Nutter had now, per- 
haps, inherited Elizabeth Nutter's property, and 
lived in the house at Pendle with his daughter 
Anne. One day they offended mother Chattox, 
when she came to their house, and next day Anne 
Nutter fell sick, and, after languishing three weeks, 
died, James Device, on his examination at the 
trial, told a strange story connected with this event. 
He said, " that twelve years ago, Anne Chattox, at 
a burial at the new church in Pendle, did take 
three scalps of people which had been buried and 
then cast out of a grave, as she the said Chattox 
told this e^aminate ; and took eight teeth out of the 
said scalps, whereof she kept four to herself, and 
gave other four to the said Demdike, this exami- 
nate's grandmother j which four teeth now shown 
to this examinate are the four teeth that the said 
Chattox gave to his said grandmother as aforesaid j 
which said teeth have ever since been kept, until 
now found by Henry Hargreaves and this exami- 
nate, at the west-end of this examinate's grands 
mother's house, and there buried in the earth, and a 
picture of clay there likewise found by them about 
half a yard over in the earth where the said teeth 
la,y, which said picture so found was almost withered 
away, and was the picture of Anne, Anthony Nut^ 
ter's daughter/' 

We have no account of the circumstances which, 
^fter these witches had so long enjoyed impunity. 


led at last to their seizure. Perhaps the enmity of 
the Nutters had something to do with it ; but Tho- 
mas Potts, who collected and printed the records of 
a trial in which he seems to have taken a very par- 
ticular interest,* ascribes their discovery and arrest 
to the zealous endeavours of that " very religious 
honest gentleman," Roger Nowell, esq., " one of his 
majesty's justices in these parts,"' the representa- 
tive of the old family of the No wells of Read in the 
Pendle district. Four of the most notorious of these 
witches, Demdike and Chattox, with Alizon Device 
and Anne Redferne, were captured by Nowell's 
orders, and, having each made a " full " confession, 
probably in the hope of saving their lives, he com- 
mitted them as prisoners to Lancaster castle on the 
second of April, 1612, to take their trials at the 
next assizes. 

Their chief place of resort, Malkin tower, re- 
mained as yet unVisited and untouched. It was a 
place looked upon with awe by the peasantry, and 

* Potts was the author of " The Wonderfdl Discoverie of 
Witches in the Countie of Lancaster," (4to. Lond. 1613,; a 
book of some rarity, of which a reprint, with a considerable 
mass of valuable information, was edited, in 1845, for the 
Ohetham Society, by James Crossley, esq. of Manchester. The 
present account of l^e Lancashire witches is compiled entirely 
from the materials preserved by Potts, which are the authentic 
copies of the confessions of Uie offenders and the depositions 
of witnesses. The common chap-book tract, entitled " The 
Lancashire Witches," which has been inserted by Mr. Halli- 
well' in his " Palatine Anthology," was a mere catch-penny 

The reader will remember the admirably conceived character 
of master Thomas Potts, in Ainsworth's romance. 


few but old Demdike and her confederates cared to 
approach it. Strange noises were heard about it^ 
and it was haunted by beings still more stranga 
James Device, in his examination before justice 
Nowell, deposed that, " about a month ago, as this 
examinate was coming towards his mother s house, 
and at day-gate [twilight] of the same night, he met 
a brown dog coming from his grandmother s house, 
about ten roods distant from the same house ; and 
about two or three nights aft^, he heard a voice of 
a great number of children shrieking and crying 
pitifully, about daylight-gate, and likewise about 
ten roods distant of this examinate's said grand- 
mother's house. And about five nights then next 
following, within twenty roods of the said Eliza- 
beth Southerners house, he heard a foul yelling like 
unto a great number of cats ; but what they were, 
this examinate cannot telL"' 

It was here that, during mother Demdike's life, 
the witches of these parts held their grand and so- 
lemn meetings, which took place annually on Good 
Friday. The day of assembly was just at hand 
when Demdike was arrested, but many of the 
witches who had escaped met as usual, in spite of 
her absence. In fact, the meeting at the Malkin 
tower, on the Good Friday of 1612, seems to have 
been better attended than usual There was, we 
are told, " great cheer, merry company, and much 
conference.'' The objects of this conference were of 
some importance. It was Elizabeth Device who 
presided, and of course now the object of most in- 
terest to her was the delivery of her mother. It 
was, we are told, proposed to kill the jailer of Lan- 


caster castle, set all the prisoners at liberty, and blow 
up the castle itself, by a few old women assembled 
in an old ruinous tower. But what might not old 
women do, when they had Satan to assist them ? 
The matters which were intended to be originally 
debated or performed at this meeting were the 
christening of a familiar for Alizon Deyice, and the 
bewitching of certain individuals who had recently 
given them offence. 

But while thus consulting, the witches were not 
aware that a young traitor was sitting amongst 
them. This was Jennet Device, the youngest of 
the granddaughters of old Device and the child of 
the very woman who was presiding over the meeting 
in her absence. This ill-conditioned child, a girl of 
nine years old, gave information to the zealous jus- 
tice NoweU of the meeting at the Malkin tower, and 
told him who were present Within a few days the 
number of persons implicated in this affair, impri- 
soned in Lancaster castle,, was increased to twelve, 
among whom were Elizabeth Device, her son 
James> and Alice Nutter of Bough Lee, a lady of 

From the informer Jennet Device, the worthy 
justice extracted a more particular account of the 
feast at the Malkin tower. She said there were 
about twenty persons present, of whom three only 
were men, and that the hour of meeting was, twelve 
o'clock of the day. They had to their dinner, beef, 
bacon, and roasted mutton ; '^ which mutton, as this 
examinate's brother said, was of a wether of Chris- 
topher Swyer's of Barley ; which wether was larotight 
in the night before into this examinate's mother's 


house by the said James Device, and in this exami- 
nate's sight was killed and eaten as aforesaid."' 
John Balcock, one of the men present at this meet- 
ing, turned the spit A woman named Preston, of 
Craven in Yorkshire, was brought by her familiar, 
who had taken the form of a white foal for that 
purpose. James Device, who confessed that he had 
been present at the meeting in Malkin tower, added, 
" that all the witches went out of the said house in 
their own shapes and likenesses. And they all, by 
that they were forth of the doors, got on horseback 
like unto foals, some of one colour, some of another ; 
and Preston's wife was the last : and when she got 
on horseback, they all presently vanished out of this 
examinate's sight And before their said parting 
away, they all appointed to meet at the said Pres- 
ton's wife's house that day twelvemonths ; at which 
time the said Preston's wife promised to make them 
a great feast And if they had occasion to meet in 
the mean time, there should warning be given, that 
they all should meet upon Romleyes Moor." 

Several of the persons at this meeting were related 
in some way or other to the Devices or to their 
rivals, and they appear to have been generally of a 
very equivocal character in other respects. One 
person now implicated in this affair, Alice Nutter 
of Rough Lee, alone excites much sympathy. She 
was a woman of considerable property, and held a 
respectable position among the better families in the 
county. Rough Lee, her residence, is still stand- 
ing, and is a good specimen of the gentleman's house 
of that period. Jennet Device, the little girl, was 
evidently suborned to swear away the lives of her 


relatives, and there appeared good reason for be- 
Keving that she introduced Alice Nutter into the 
plot at the desire of some of that lady's relatives, 
who were eager to obtain her property, which would 
come to them by heritage on her death. It has 
been further handed down by tradition that justice 
No well owed the lady a grudge on account of a long- 
disputed question of a boundary between their 
lands, and that he at least gave encouragement to 
this conspiracy against her. 

The charges brought against Alice Nutter on 
the trial were chiefly remarkable for their weakness. 
Jennet Device and her brother James declared that 
she was at the meeting at the Malkin tower on 
Good Friday, and Elizabeth Device said she joined 
with her and old Demdike in bewitching a man 
named Mitton to death, merely because the said 
Mitton had refused to give Demdike a penny. 

Old Demdike escaped the cruelty of the law by 
dying in prison a few days after she had been com- 
mitted. Thus mother Chattox became the chief 
of the witches who were brought into court for 
trial on the 19th of August. She is described as " a 
very old, withered, spent, and decrepid creature, her 
sight almost gone.'' Mother Chattox was quite 
blind ; her lips were " ever chattering and talking, 
but no man knew what ;" and she was " always 
more ready to do mischief to men's goods than 
themselves ;" in this respect the contrary of Dem- 
dike, who took delight in killing and tormenting the 
persons of her enemies. She was, nevertheless, no- 
torious as " a dangerous witch," and was " always 
opposite to old Demdike, for whom the one favour- 

p 5 

( » 


ed, the other hated deadly." Between them no 
doubt the forest of Pendle must have been an 
agreeable neighbourhood. Yet mother Chattox had 
some feelings of affection, for when judgment was 
pronounced upon her, she cried out in a distracted 
manner that God would be merciful to her, and 
falling on her knees, supplicated the judge that he 
would " be merciful unto Anne Redfeme, her 
daughter.'' Demdike's daughter, Elizabeth Device, 
was next brought to the bar. " This odious witch 
was branded with a preposterous mark in nature, 
even from her birth, which was her left eye standing 
lower than the other; the one looking down, the 
other looking up, so strangely deformed that the best 
that were present in that honourable assembly and 
great audience did affirm they had not often seen the 
like.'' When this woman saw her own child stand 
up in evidence against her, she burst into a violent 
passion, ^^ according to her accustomed manner, 
outrageously cursing, cried out against the child in 
such a fearful manner, as all the court did not a 
little wonder at her, and so amazed the child, as 
with weeping tears she cried out to my lord the 
judge, and told him she was not able to speak in 
the presence of her mother." In the end they were 
obliged to take Elizabeth Device away, and then the 
daughter gave her evidence unconcerned. The other 
prisoners were then brought to their trial in succes- 
sion Four, Chattox, Elizabeth Device, and the 
two children of the latter, (James and Alizon,) had 
made confessions, and therefore they had little to 
hope. With them were convicted Anne Redferne, 
Alice Nutter, Katharine Hewit, John Bulcock and 


his wife Jane, all of Pendle, and Isabel Roby of 
Windle, in the parish of Prescot, who maintained 
their innocence to the last They were all burnt 
the day after their trial> "at the common place of 
execution near to Lanpasteir/V One Margs^et 
Pearson of Padiham, though convicted of being a 
witch, was dealt more leniently with, being only 
condemned to exposure on the pillory. Two others^ 
were acquitted. 

Young Jennet Device, who for her age appears to 
have possessed at least as evil disposition as any of 
them, was spared as the principal evidence against 
the accused. Her declaration proved that she was 
not unacquainted with the practices of her parents, 
and she confessed, " that her mother had taught her 
two prayers, the one to cure the bewitched, and the 
other to get drink.'^ * 

* The prayer, or rather charm, to cure those bewitched, 
which Jennet Device had learnt from her mother, was as fol- 
lows, and from its phraseology was evidently then of consider- 
able antiquity. 

Upon Good Friday, I will fast while I may 

Untill 1 heare them knell 

Our Lord's owne belL 

Lord in his messe 

With his twelve apostles good> 

What hath he in his hand ? 

Ligh in leath wand. 

What hath he in his other hand ? 

Heaven's doore key. 

Open, open, heaven doore keyes. 

Stock, steck, hell doore. 

Let crizum chHd 

Ooe to its mother mild. 

108 SOBGEBY Am> MAGia 

One other of the witches who met at the fatal 
assembly in Malkin tower was brought to the scaf- 
fold at the same time. This was Jennet Preston, 
of Gisbome in Craven, who was tried at York for 
bewitching some members of the family of Lister in 
Craven, and for other similar offences ; but the 
principal evidence against her was derived firom the 
confessions of Elizabeth, James, and Jennet Device. 
It was she who rode to the Malkin tower on a 
white foaL She died without confession. 

Jennet Device only escaped the scaffold on this oc- 
casion, as it has been supposed, to undergo somewhat 
later the same dreadful punishment that she had 
brought on so many of her relatives. Twenty years 
after the events detailed above, the witches stiU conti- 
nued to hold their meetings in the forest of Pendle, 

What is yonder that casts a light so farrandly ? 
Mine owne deare sonne thatf s naild to the tree. 
He is niuld sore by the heart and hand, 
And holy hame panne. 
Well is that man, 
That Fryday spell can, 
His child to leame ; 
A cross of blew, and another of red. 
As good Lord was to the roode. 
Gabriel laid him downe to sleepe 
Upon the ground of holy weepe ; 
Good Lord came walking by, 
Sleepst thou, wakst thou, Gabriel ? 
No, Lord, I am sted with sticke and stake. 
That I can neither sleepe nor wake. 
Kise up, Gabriel, and goe with me, 
The stick nor the stake shall never deere thee. 
Sweet Jesus, our Lord, amen. 
It is a mere farrago of popish religious verses. 

EDMUND Robinson's stobt. 109 

in greater numbers than ever, but for some reason or 
.other the old rendezvous at Malkin tower seems to 
have been deserted, and they now assembled at a place 
at some distance from it named the Hoar-stones, a 
house which is said to be still standing. On the 
30th of February, 1633, a lad named Edmund 
Robinson, the son of a poor mason in Pendle forest, 
made the following strange declaration before two 
justices of the peace. He said that on All Saints' 
day, in the preceding year, he was gathering bullies 
or wild plums in Wheatley-lane, when he saw two 
greyhounds, one black and the other brown, run- 
ning over the next field towards him. They came 
to him familiarly, and then he perceived they had 
each a collar, which ^' did shine like gold,'' and to 
which a string was attached. Seeing that nobody 
followed the greyhounds, he imagined they belonged 
to some of the neighbours and had broke loose, 
and, as at that moment a hare started up at a short 
distance from him, he thought he would set them 
to hunt it, and pointing at it, he cried, " Loo, loo !" 
but to no purpose, for the dogs would not run. 
" Whereupon, being very angry, he took them, and 
with the strings that were at their collars, tied 
either of them to a little bush at the next hedge, 
and with a rod that he had in his hand he beat 
them ; and instead of the black greyhound one 
Dickinson's wife stood up, a neighbour whom this 
informer knoweth, and instead of the brown grey- 
hound a little boy whom this informer knoweth 
not" Young Robinson proceeded to state that, in 
his terror, he attempted to run away, but was ar- 
rested by the woman, who " put her hand into her 


pockety and pulled out a piece of silyer mudi like 
unto a fair shilling, and offered to give him to hold 
his tongue, and not to tell, which he refused, saj*^ 
ing, ' Nay, thou art a witch T Whereupon she put 
her hand into her pocket again, and piilled out a 
string Uke unto a bridle that jingled, which she put 
upon the little boy^s head that stood up in tJie 
brown greyhound's stead, whereupon the said boy 
stood up a white horsa"" The woman now seieed 
upon Edmund Biobinson, placed him on the horse 
before her, and rode with him to Hoar-stonea, 
where " there were divers persons about the door, 
and he saw divers others coming riding upon horses 
of several colours towards the house, which tied 
their horses to a hedge near to the said house ; and 
which persons went into the said house, to the 
number of threescore or thereabouts, as this in- 
former thinketh, where they had a fire and meat 
roasting, and some other meat stirring in the 
house, whereof a young woman, whom he this in- 
former knoweth not, gave him flesh and bread upon 
a trencher, and drink in a glass, which after the 
first taste he refused, and would have no more, and 
said it was naught And presently after, seeing 
divers of the company going to a barn near adjoin- 
ing, he followed after, and there he saw six of 
them kneeling and pulling at six several ropes 
which were fastened or tied to the top of the house, 
at or with which pidling came then in this in- 
former's sight flesh smoking, butter in lumps, and 
milk, as it were, syleing {straining) from the said 
ropes, all which fell into basins which were placed 
under the said ropes. And after that these six had 

TOTJNG Robinson's adventures. Ill 

done, there came other six which did likewise, and 
during all the time of their so pulling, they made 
such foul faces that feared this informer, so as he 
was glad to steal out and run home/' He further 
stated that the women in the barn had there ".pic- 
tures " or images, which they were pricking with 

No sooner was young Robinson's flight disco- 
vered, than a party of the witches, of whom the 
foremost were Dickinson's wife just mentioned, the 
wife of a man named Loynd or Loyne, and Jennet 
Device,* joined in the pursuit, and they had nearly 
overtaken him at a spot which bore the somewhat 
ominous name of Boggard-hole, when the appear- 
ance of two horsemen caused them to desist His 
troubles, however, were not thus ended, for on his 
return home in the evening, " his father bade him 
go fetch home two kyne to seale (tie up in their 
statts), and in the way, in a field called the Oilers, 
he chanced to hap upon a boy who began to quaj> 
rel with him, and they fought so together till this 
informer had his ears made very bloody by fighting, 
and looking down he saw the boy had a cloven foot, 
at which sight he was afraid, and ran away from 
him to seek the kyne. And in the way he saw a 
light like a lantern, towards which he made haste, 
supposing it to be carried by some of Mr. Robin- 
son's people [one of their more wealthy neigh- 
bours] ; but when he came to the place, he only 

* There is some room, after all, for doubt if this Jennet 
Device be the same who figured in the trials in 1612. In the 
copy of the deposition in lord Londesborough's manuscript 
she is described as " Jennet Device uxor WiUielmi Device." 


found a woman standing on a bridge, whom, when 
he saw her, he knew to be Loynds' wife, and know- 
ing her, he turned back again, and immediately he 
met with the aforesaid boy, from whom he offered 
to run, which boy gave him a blow on the back 
which caused him to cry/" The boy's father, in 
confirmation of this story, acknowledged send- 
ing him for the two kyne, and added that, 
thinking he stayed longer than he should have 
done, '^ he went to seek him, and in seeking him 
heard him cry very pitifully, and found him so afraid 
and distracted, that he neither knew his father, nor 
did know where he was, and so continued very 
near a quarter of an hour before he came to him- 
self,'' when he told his father the same story which 
he now repeated before the magistrates. 

The boy Robinson, in his deposition, mentioned 
the names of such of the persons present at the 
meeting at Hoar-stones as he knew, who were im- 
mediately seized and committed to Lancaster castle. 
As he said that he should recognize the others if he 
saw them, he was carried about by his father and 
others to the churches of the neighbouring parishes 
to examine the congregations, and in this way he 
gained a considerable sum of money. John "Web- 
ster, whose "Displaying of Witchcraft" is one of 
the best books on the subject published during the 
seventeenth century, has given us a curious account 
of these proceedings. " It came to pass," he says, 
" that this said boy was brought into the church of 
KUdwick, a large parish church where I (being 
then curate there) was preaching in the afternoon, 
and was set upon a stall (he being but about ten 


or eleven years old) to look about him, which 
moved some little disturbance in the congregation 
for a while. And after prayers I inquiring what 
the matter was, the people told me that it was the 
boy that discovered witches, upon which I went to 
the house where he was to stay all night, where I 
found him and two very unlikely (iUrlooking) per- 
sons that did conduct him and manage his business. 
I desired to have some discourse with the boy in 
private, but that they utterly refused. Then, in 
the presence of a great many people, I took the 
boy near me, and said, ' Good boy, tell me truly, 
and in earnest, did thou see and hear such strange 
things of the meeting of witches as is reported by 
many that thou dost relate, or did not some person 
teach thee to say such things of thyself?' But the 
two men not giving the boy leave to answer, did 
pluck him from me, and said he had been exa- 
mined by two able justices of the peace, and they 
did never ask him such a question ; to whom I re- 
plied, the persons accused therefore had the more 

By means like these, a number of wretched 
persons were thrown into prison, to the amount 
of nearly thirty. They were no sooner arrested, 
than people were found to accuse them of a variety 
of crimes, chiefly that of killing or seriously injur- 
ing people by witchcraft. It is rather a singular 
coincidence of names, that Jennet Device was 
charged with killing Isabelle the wife of William 
Nutter. The crime of another, Mary Spencer, was 
" causeing a pale or cellocke to come to her full of 
water fourteen yards up a hill from a well.'' Ano- 


114 SOSGEBT llO) MAOia 

ther, named Margaret Johnson, was accused of kill- 
ing Henry Heape, and of wasting and impairing 
the bodj of Jennet Shackleton. As the evidence 
appears to have been otherwise rather deficient, all 
these persons were searched for marks, which were ' 
found in great abundance, and it is stated, at the 
end of the list^ that against one person put on her 
trial, there was '^ no evidence found, only in search H 

a mark found on her body/'* At the ensuing 
assizes at Lancaster the prisoners were all put upon 
their trial, and no less than seventeen were on such 
evidence found guilty. One of them at least, Mar- 
garet Johnson, had made a confession, which, as 
containing apparently an abstract of the full cha- 
racter of a witch according to the belief of Lanca- 
shire at this period, deserves to be printed. It is 
here given, verbatim, from lord Londesborough's 
manuscript Margaret Johnson, on the 9th of 
March, 1633, before the same justices who had 
taken the deposition of the boy Robinson, said, 
" that betweene seven or eight yeares since, shee 
beeing in her house at Marsden in greate passion 
and anger, and discontented, and withall oppressed 
with some want, there appeared unto her a spirit 
or devill in the similitude and proportion of a man, 

* A very curious volume of manuscripts relating to magic 
and sorcery, recently published by lord Londesborough, con- 
tains early copies of the depositions of Edmund Bobinson and 
his father, of the confession of Margaret Johnson, which is 
given farther on, and of the list of persons brought to trial, 
with the description of their marks, and an enumeration of 
the crimes with which they were charged. The marks are 
described too minutely to allow of this curious paper being 
printed in a work like the present. 


apparrelled in a suite of blacke, tied about with 
silke pointes, whoe offered her, yf shee would give 
him her soule, hee would supply all her wantes, 
and bring to her whatsoever shee wanted or needed, 
and at her appointment would helpe her to kill and 
revenge her either of men or beasf e, or what she de- 
sired; and after a sollicitacion or two, shee contracted 
and condicioned with the said devill or spiritt for her 
soule. And the said devill bad her call him by the 
name of Memillion, and when shee called hee would 
bee ready to doe her will And shee saith that in all 
her talke and conference shee called the said Mamil- 
lion her god .. . 5 And shee furthersaiththat shee wa» 
not at the greate meetinge of the witches at Hare- 
stones in the f orrest of Pendle on All Saintes day 
last past^ but saith that shee was at a second meet- 
inge the Sunday after All Saintes day at the place 
aforesaid, where there was at that time betweene 
thirty and forty witches, which did all ride to the 
said meetinge. And thend of the said meetinge 
was to consult for the killing and hurting of man 
and beastes ; and that there was one devill or spiritt 
that was more greate and grand deviU then the 
rest, and yf anie witch desired to have such an 
one, they might have such an one to kill or hurt 
anie body. And shee further saith, that such 
witches as have sharpe boanes are generally for 
the devill to prick them with which have no papps 
nor duggs, but raiseth blood from the place pricked 
with the boane, which witches are more greate and 
grand witches then they which have papps or 
dugs. And shee beeing further asked what per* 


sons were at their last meetinge, she named one 
Carpnall and his wife, Rason and his wife, Pick- 
hamer and his wife, Da£^ and his wife, and one 
Jane Carbonell, whereof Pickhamer's wife is the 
most greate, grand, and auncyent witch ; and that 
one witch alone can kill a beast, and yf they bidd 
their spirit or devill to goe and pricke or hurt anie 
man in anie particuler place, hee presently will doe 
it And that their spiritts have usually knowledge 
of their bodies. And shee further saith the men 
witches hare woemen spiritts, and woemen witches 
have men spiritts ; and that Good Friday is one 
of their constant dales of their generall meetinge, 
and that on Grood Friday last they had a meetinge 
neere Pendle water side ; and saith that their spirit 
doeth tell them where their meetinge must bee, and 
in what place ; and saith that if a witch desire to 
bee in anie place upon a suddaine, that on a dogg 
or a rod or a catt their spiritt will presently convey 
them thither, or into any roome in any man's 
house. But shee saith it is not the substance of 
their bodies that doeth goe into anie such roomes, 
but their spiritts that assume such shape and forme- 
And shee further saith that the devill, after hee 
begins to sucke, will make a papp or a dug in a 
short time, and the matter hee sucketh is blood. 
And further saith that the devill can raise foule 
wether and stormes, and soe hee did at their 
meetinges. And she further saith that when the 
devill came to suck her pappe, he came to her in 
the lickness of a catt, sometimes of one collour and 
sometimes of another. And since this trouble 



befell her, her spiritt hath left her, and shee never 
sawe him since/' 

Although the jury were satisfied with the evi- 
dence in this case, such was not the case with the 
judge, who respited the prisoners, and the affair was 
reported to the king in council Charles I. had 
not the same weak prejudices in these matters as 
his father, and by hif orders, an inquixy was insti- 
tuted at Chester, under the direction of the bishop, 
the result of which was that four of the convicted 
witches, Margaret Johnson, (whose confession has 
just been given,) Frances Dickenson, Mary Spencer, 
and the wife of one of the Hargreaves, were sent to 
London, and there examined, first by the king's 
physicians, and then by the king in person. Strong 
suspicions having arisen, the boy was separated 
from his father, (they had both been brought to 
London,) and then he confessed that the whole was 
an imposture, and that he had been taught to say 
what he had said by his father and some other per- 
sons who had conspired to get up this story as a 
profitable speculation. He declared that on the 
day when he said he was carried to the meeting at 
Hoar-stones, he was a mile off gathering plums in 
another man's orchard. Fortunately none of the 
pretended witches had been executed. 

Such was the end of the second great case of 
witchcraft in Lancashire, which became from many 
circumstances, but especially by the king's inter- 
ference and the transferring of the case to London, 
one of the most celebrated in England. The Lan- 
cashire witches have gained a new celebrity at the 
present day by furnishing the plot of one of the 


best romances of one of the most popular and ad- 
mired of our writers, Harrison AinswortL The 
term itself had become so famous that it has long 
been in that county transferred to a class of witches 
of the same sex, but of a very different character, 
and no festival there is now considered perfect 
until the toast of " the Lancashire Witches " of the 
present day has been drunk. 




The case of the Lancashire witches, in 1612, 
seems to have been the first grand exemplification 
of king James's witchcraft doctrines in England. 
Yet though the published cases of witchcraft during 
that monarch's reign are not very numerous, there 
can be no doubt that the superstition itself was 
widely prevalent throughout the country, and that it 
gave rise to innumerable instances of persecution. 
In the same year, 1612, five witches were executed 
at Northampton, of whom one only, a man, made a 
confession. He said that he had three spirits, whom 
he called Grissill, Ball, and Jack. In 1615, there 
was a rather remarkable case of witchcraft at Lynn, 
in Norfolk. Relations of both these cases were 
printed, and dispersed abroad. In 1618, an event ♦ 
of this kind occurred on the borders of the counties 
of Leicester and Lincoln, which was still more re- 


markable as haying occurred in one of the noblest 
families in the land. 

Sir Francis Manners succeeded his brother Roger 
in the earldom of Rutland in 1612, and soon distin- 
guished himself by the magnificent hospitality which 
he exercised at his castle of Belvoir. He had two 
sons, Henry and Francis, and a daughter Kathe- 
rine ; the first of these died about the year 1614, 
and he was followed to the grave by his younger 
brother within two years. The only remaining 
child, who afterwards married the duke of Bucking- 
ham, was also taken with a severe illness, from 
which she was hardly expected to recover. In the 
hamlet adjoining to the castle there lived an old 
woman named Joan Flower, with two daugh- 
ters, whose poverty excited the compassion of the 
,earl and his lady, and the mother was employed in 
the castle as a chairwoman, while her eldest daugh- 
ter Margaret was received into the household as a 
servant. It was soon found, however, that mother 
Flowers was undeserving of the kindness thus shown 
to her ; she gave offence by her evil manners, and 
by the disorders of her house, where people of no 
good reputation came to visit her younger daughter 
Philip, and at last Margaret Flower was discharged 
from her place for purloining the provisions of the 
castle to furnish the visitors at her mother s house. 
All this had occurred before the death of the earl's 
children, and, as the countess had acted generously 
towards the daughter when she was discharged, they 
were never suspected of malice. 

However, reports of a sinister character touching 
the proceedings of the family of Joan Flower soon 


spread abroad They had gained the reputation of 
being witches, and it began to be whispered about 
that the earl's children had perished by their agency. 
Witches appear to have been rather numerous in 
this Ticinity, and as the reports became more rife, a 
number of arrests, including the three Flowers and 
other persons, were made just before the Christmas 
of 1617, and the prisoners were lodged in Lincoln 
jaiL The mother, Joan Flowers, when she was 
committed to prison, is said to have asked for bread 
and butter, which she wished impiously might be 
her death if she were guilty of the crime of which 
she was accused ; but she no sooner attempted to 
swallow it, than she was choked and instantly ex- 
pired. The earl of Rutland was at the time in Lon- 
don ; when, however, he heard of the imprisonment of 
the witches, and the crimes that were imputed to 
them, he hastened with his brother, sir George 
Manners, to Lincoln, and assisted at their examina- 
tion. They all confessed, were, as might be ex- 
pected, duly convicted, and were executed early in 
the March of the year 1618.^ 

Among the witnesses on this occasion was a wo- 
man — apparently an old one — named Joan Willi- 
mott, of Goodby in Leicestershire, who confessed 
" that she hath a spirit which she calleth Pretty, 
which was given unto her by William Berry of 
Langholme in Rutlandshire, whom she served three 
years ; and that her master, when he gave it unto 
her, willed her to open her mouth, and he would 

* The earl and the countess were so far satisfied that their 
children died hy witchcraft, that it was stated in the inscription 
on their monument in Bottesford church, 

VOL. 11. a 


blow into her a fairy which should do her good ; 
and that she opened her mouth, and he did blow 
into her mouth ; and that presently after his blow- 
ing there came out of her mouth a spirit, which 
stood upon the ground, in the shape and form of a 
woman, which spirit asked of her her soul, which 
she then promised unto it, being willed thereunto 
by her master. She further confessed, that she 
never hurt anybody, but did help divers that sent 
forj her, which were stricken or forespoken ; and 
that her spirit came weekly to her, and would tell 
her of divers persons that were stricken and fore- 
spoken. And she saith, that the use which she had 
of the spirit, was to know how those did which she 
had undertaken to amend ; and that she did help 
them by certain prayers which she used, and not by 
her own spirit ; neither did she employ her spirit in 
anything, but only to bring word how those did 
which she had undertaken to cure/' 

Another witness, named Ellen Green, of Sta- 
thorne in the same county, said, " that one Joan 
Willimott of Goodby came about six years since to 
her in the "Wolds, and persuaded this examinate to 
forsake God, and betake her to the devil, and she 
would give- her two spirits, to which she gave her 
consent, and thereupon the said Joan Willimott 
called two spirits, one in the likeness of a kitten^ 
and the other of a moldiwarp (a mole) ; the first, 
the said "Willimott called Pusse, the other Hiffe- 
hiffe, and they presently came to her; and she 
departing left them with the examinate, and they 
leaped on her shoulder; and the kitten sucked 
under her right ear or her neck, and the moldiwarp 



on the left side in the like place. After they had 
sucked her, she sent the kitten to a baker of that 
town, whose name she remembers not, who had 
called her witch and struck her ; and bade her said 
spirit go and bewitch him to deatk The moldi- 
warp she then bade go to Anne Dawse of the same 
town and bewitch her to death, because she had 
called this examinate witch and jade ; and within 
one fortnight they both died. And further, this 
examinate saith, that she sent both her spirits to 
Stonesby, to one Willison, a husbandman, and Ro- 
bert WiUiman, a husbandman's son, and bade the 
kitten go to Willison and bewitch him to death, 
and the moldiwarp to the other and bewitch him to 
death, which they did, and within ten days they 
died. These four were bewitched while this exami- 
nate dwelt at Waltham aforesaid. About three 
years since, this examinate removed thence to 
Stathome, where she now dwelt ; upon a difference 
between the said Willimott and the wife of John 
Patchet of the said Stathorne, yeoman, she, the said 
Willimott, called her, this examinate, to go and 
touch the said John Patchet's wife and her child, 
which she did, touching the said John Patchet » 
wife in her bed, and the child in the grace-wife's 
arms, and then sent her said spirits to bewitch them 
to death, which they did, and so the woman lay 
languishing by the space of a month and more, for 
then she died : the child died the next day after 
she touched it. And she further saith, that the 
said Joan Willimott had a spirit sucking on her 
under the left flank in the likeness of a little white 
dog, which this examinate saith that she saw the 

o 2 


same sucking in barley-harvest last, being then at 
the house of the said Joan Willimott'' 

Both the daughters of mother Flowers confessed, 
and Margaret gave the following account of the pro- 
ceedings relating to the earl of Rutland's family. 
" She saith and confesseth, that about four or five 
years since her mother sent her for the right-hand 
glove of Henry lord Bosse, afterward that her mother 
bade her go again into the castle of Belvoir, and 
bring down the glove or some other thing of Henry 
lord Bosse ; whereupon she brought down a glove, 
and delivered the same to her mother, who stroked 
Rutterkin, her cat, with it ; after it was dipped in 
hot water, and so pricked it often, after which Henry 
lord Rosse fell sick within a week, and was much 
tormented with the same. She further saith, that 
finding a glove about two or three years since of 
Francis lord Rosse on a dung-hill, she delivered it 
to her mother, who put it into hot water ; and after 
took it out and rubbed it on Rutterkin the cat, 
and bade him go upwards ; and after her mother 
buried it in the yard, and said a mischief light on 
him, but he will not mend again. She further said, 
that her mother and she, and her sister, agreed to- 
gether to bewitch the earl and his lady, that they 
might have no more children ; and being demanded 
the cause of this their malice and ill-will, she saith, 
that about four years since the countess (growing 
into some mislike with her) gave her forty shillings, 
a bolster, and a mattress, and bade her bide at home 
and come no more to dwell at the castle ; which 
she not only took in ill part, but grudged at it ex- 
ceedingly, swearing in her heart to be revenged ; 


after tliis her mother complained to the earl against 
one Peake, who had offered her some wrong, wherein 
she conceived that the earl took not her part, as 
she expected, which dislike with the rest exaspe- 
rated her displeaisure against him, and so she watch- 
ed the opportunity to be revenged : whereupon she 
took wool out of the said mattress, and a pair of 
gloves, which were given her by Mr. Vavasor, and 
put them into warm water, mingling them with 
some blood, and stirring it together ; then she took 
the wool and gloves out of the water, and rubbed 
them on the body of Butterkin her cat, saying the 
lord and the lady should have more children, but it 
should be long first She farther confessed, that 
by her mother's commandment, she brought to her 
a piece of a handkerchief of the lady Eatherine, the 
earl's daughter ; and her mother put it into hot 
water, and then taking it' out rubbed it on Butter- 
kin, bidding him fly and go, whereupon Butterkin 
whined and cried ' Mew;' whereupon she said, that 
Butterkin had no power over the lady Eatherine to 
hurt her/' Her sister, Philip Flowers, declared, 
^' that about the 30th of January last past, being 
Saturday, four devils appeared unto her in Lincoln 
jail, at eleven or twelve o'clock at midnight ; the 
one stood at her bed's foot, with a black head like 
an ape, and spake unto her, but what she cannot 
well remember, at which she was very angry, be- 
cause he would speak no plainer, or let her under- 
stand his meaning : the other three were Butterkin, 
little Bobin, and Spirit, but she never mistrusted 
them, nor suspected herself till then." 
The Bpman Catholics in England were very active 


during the reign of James L, and they attempted to 
take advantage of the popular credulity in getting 
up cases of possession in imitation of their brethren 
on the continent ; one of the most remarkable cases 
of this kind occurred in Lancaster in 1612, and led 
to a trial on the same day with that of the witches 
of Pendle. 

The village of Samlesbury is at some distance from 
the Pendle district, nearer to Preston, but it was 
probably the reports of the deeds of mothers Demdike 
and Chattox that suggested the plot now to be re- 
lated. The principal family in this township were 
the South worths, who had their head seat at Samles- 
bury park, and who seem to have been much 
divided among themselves — a division which was 
increased by religious differences, for some of them 
were Protestants and others Catholics. Lancashire 
was at this time remarkable for the n amber of 
papists which it harboured — it was the grand asyluni 
of the English seminary priests, and there are docu- 
ments which show that Samlesbury-park was a 
well-known resort of the partizans of Rome. One 
of these priests was Christopher Southworth, who 
for concealment had assumed the name of Thomp- 
son, and who appears to have been nearly related to 
sir John Southworth, the occupier of the park, 
who was then recently dead. Between sir John 
and one of his female relations, Jane South- 
worth, there was a bitter feud, for what reason is 
not stated ; a servant of sir John's, named John 
Singleton, deposed, that '^ he had often heard his 
old master say, that the said Jane Southworth was, 
as he thought, an evil woman and a witch f and he 



added, '^ that the said sir John Southworth, in his 
coming or going between his Own house at Samles- 
bnry and the town of Preston, did for the most part 
forbear to pass by the house where the said wife 
dwelt, though it was his nearest and best way, and 
rode another way, only for fear of the said wife, as 
this examinate verily thinketL"' This statement 
WES confirmed by another witness, a yeoman of 
Sandesbury, named William Alker, who deposed, 
" that he had seen the said sir John Southworth 
shun the said wife when he came near where she 
was, and hath heard the said sir John say that he 
liked her not, and that he doubted she would be- 
witch him."' As far as we can gather, it appears 
further, that Jane Southworth was a recent convert 
from Romanism to the Church of England. 

There was in the same village a family of the 
name of Bierley. Jennet Bierley was an aged woman, 
who appears to have lived with a daughter-in-law, 
Ellen Bierley; her own daughter had married Thomas 
Sowerbuts of Samlesbury, a husbandman, and by her 
he had a daughter, Grace Sowerbuts, who was at this 
time about fourteen years of age. Jennet and Ellen 
Bierley were Protestants, while Thomas Sowerbuts 
was a Catholic, and there was probably a quarrel 
between them on account of the religion of the 
child, which Thomas Sowerbut resolved should be 
that of Rome, and for that purpose he sent her for 
reli^ous instruction to the priest Thompson {alias 

Soon after or about the time of the seizure of the 
witches of Pendle, Grrace Sowerbuts pretended to 
be seized with strange fits, and she was found in a 


aort of trance among the hay and straw in a bam, 
whence she was taken to her father's house, and 
there told a story which led to the arrest of Jane 
Southworth, and Jennet and Ellen Bierley, and they 
were committed to Lancaster jaiL They were 
brought to trial on the 19th of August^ 1612, and 
then Grace Sowerbut made a statement in court, to 
the effect that, after having been " haunted and 
vexed'' for some years by the prisoners and another 
confederate, named old Doewife, these four women 
had lately drawn her by the hair of the head to the 
top of a hay-mow, where they left her. Not long 
after this. Jennet Bierley met her near her home, 
lE^pearing to her first in human likeness, "and 
after that in the likeness of a black dog," and at- 
tempted to terrify her. The girl told her father 
what had haj^ened, and how she had often been 
'' haunted" in this manner ; and being asked by 
the court why die never told anybody before, 
she said, " She could not speak thereof, though she 
desired so to do." Soon after this, on the fourth of 
April, " going towards Samlesbury back to meet her 
mother, coming from Preston, she saw the said 
Jennet Bierley, who met this examinate at a place 
called the Two Brigs, first in her own shape, and 
afterwards in the likeness of a black dog with two 
legs, which dog went close by the left side of this 
examinate till they came to a pit of water, and then 
the said dog spake, and persuaded this examinate 
to drown herself therein, saying it was a fair and an 
easy death; whereupon this examinate thought 
there came one to her in a white sheet, and carried 
her away from the said pit, upon the coming 


whereof the said black dog departed away/' The 
dog subsequently returned, and carried her to a 
neighbour's bam, where it left her in a trance on 
the floor. She went on to describe other instances 
of persecution by the witches, and declared that 
on one occasion her grandmother and aunt had 
taken her by night to the house of a man named 
Thomas Walshmah, which they entered " she knew 
not how,'' and Jennet Bierley caused the death 
of an infant child; and the night after the 
burial of the child, " the said Jennet Bierley, and 
Ellen Bierley, taking this examinate with them, 
went to Samlesbury church, and there did take up 
the said child, and the said Jennet did carry it out 
of the churchyard in her arms, and then did put it 
in her lap and carried it home to her own house, 
and having it there, did boil some thereof in a pot, 
and some did broil on the coals, of both which the 
said Jennet and Ellen did eat, and would have had 
this examinate, and one Grace Brierley, daughter 
of the said Ellen, to have eaten with them, but 
they refused so to do. And afterward the said 
Jennet and Ellen did seethe (boil) the bones of the 
said child in a pot, and with the fat that came out 
of the said bones they said they would anoint them- 
selves, that thereby they might sometimes change 
themselves into other shapes. And after all this 
being done, they said they would lay the bones 
again in the grave the next night following, but 
whether they did so or not this examinate knoweth 
not ; neither doth she know how they got it out of 
the grave at the first taking of it up." She next 
stated, that " about half a year ago, the said Jennet 

a 5 

130 80BCEBT AND HAGia 

Bierley, Ellen Bierley, Jane Southworth, and this 
examinate, (who went hj the appointment of the 
said Jennet, her grandmother,) did meet at a place 
called Redbank, upon the north side of the water 
of Ribble, every Thursday and Sunday at night, 
by the space of a fortnight, and at the water-side 
there came unto them, as they went thither, four 
black things, going upright, and yet not like men 
in the face, which four did carry the said three 
women and this examinate over the water ; and 
when they came to the said Redbank, they found 
something there which they did eat. .... And 
after they had eaten, the said three women and this 
examinate danced, every one of them with one of 
the black things aforesaid.'' .... She proceeded to 
describe further acts, familiar to those who enter 
into the minutiaa of sorcery, and which seem to 
have been taken from the foreign books on the sub- 
ject, and then described other persecutions to which 
she had been subjected, until the time of the arrest 
of the prisonera 

It was not the fashion at this time to submit wit- 
nesses in such cases to a strict cross-examination, nor 
did any one think of opening the grave of the child to 
ascertain in what condition the body might then 
be ; but Thomas Walshman deposed that his child 
died about the time stated, though he said that it 
had been sick for some time. Witnesses were also 
examined as to Grace Sowerbuts' fits, and the 
father and one or two other witnesses gave their 
evidence in corroboration of her statements. The 
evidence was thus in due order taken, and the jury 
was no doubt ready to give a verdict against the 


prisoners, when the judge, sir Edward Bromlej, 
demanded of the latter what they had to saj for 
themselves. The sequel maj be told best in the 
rather dramatic language of the report of the triaL 
The three prisoners, instead of being abashed as 
persons under such circumstances usuaUj were, 
" humbly upon their knees, with weeping tears, 
desired him for God's cause to examine Grace 
Sowerbuts, who set her on, or by whose means this 
accusation came against them. Immediately the 
countenance of this Grace Sowerbuts changed ; the 
witnesses, being behind, began to quarrel and ac- 
cuse one another. In the end his lordship exa* 
mined the girl, who could not for her life make any 
direct answer, but strangely amazed, told him she 
was put to a master to learn, but he told her no- 
thing of this. But here, as his lordship's care and 
pains were great to discover the practices of these 
odious witches of the forest of Pendle and other 
places now upon their trial before him, so was he 
desirous to discover this damnable practice to 
accuse these poor women and bring their lives in 
danger, and thereby to deliver the innocent And 
as he openly delivered it upon the bench, in the 
hearing of this great audience, that if a priest or 
Jesuit had a hand in one end of it, there would 
appear to be knavery and practice in the other end 
of it , and that it might the better appear to the 
whole world, exa>mined Thomas Sowerbuts what 
master taught his daughter ; in general terms he 
denied all. The wench had nothing to say, but her 
master told her nothing of that. In the end, some 
that were present told his lordship the truth, and 


the prisoners informed him how she went to learn 
with one Thompson, a seminary priest, who. had 
instructed and taught her this accusation against 
them, because they were once obstinate papists, and 
now came to churcL Here is the discovery of this 
priest, and of his whole practice. Still this fire in- 
creased more and more, and, one witness accusing 
another, all things were laid open at laige. In 
the end, his lordship took away the girl from her 
father, and committed her to Mr. Leigh, a very re- 
ligious preacher, and Mr. Chisnal, two justices of 
the peace, to be carefully examined.'^ 

Grace Sowerbuts now made a full confession ; 
she declared that all she said before had been 
taught her by the priest ; that it was a mere in- 
vention ; that her fits were counterfeit ; and that 
she had, by her own will, gone into the barn and 
other places where she was found. 

Eight years after this trial, in 1620, occurred a 
somewhat similar case, which made a great sensa- 
tion at the time. There was at Bilston, in Stafford- 
shire, a poor boy of twelve years old, named Wil- 
liam Percy, the son of a husbandman of that place. 
One day as he was coming home from school, he 
met an old woman whom he had never seen before, 
but who, as it was afterwards pretended, was a 
poor woman of the neighbourhood, named Joan 
Cock ; she taxed him that he did not wish her 
good day, and told him that he was a foul thing, 
xmd that it had been better for him if he had 
flftluted her. This was the account which the lad 
gave, and he had no sooner reached home than he 
was seized with dreadful fits. It appears that there 


were many Roman Catholics residing in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bilston, and to some of these the boy's 
parents applied for advice and assistance. As soon 
as the boy was exorcised according to the forms 
directed by the Romish church, he became calm, 
and in reply to questions put to him, he declared 
that he was bewitched, and that he was possessed 
by three devils. Besides the exorcisms, the priests 
were very liberal with holy water and with holy 
oil, by the plentiful application of which, " with ex- 
treme fits and hearings, he brought up pins, wool, 
knotted thread, thrums, rosemary, walnut leaves, 
feathers, &c/' This we learn from the priest, who 
drew up the account of the " miracle,'' which was 
afterwards printed, and who informs us, among 
other things, that " on Thursday, being Corpus 
Christi day, I came again, and found the child in 
great extremities In this time he had brought up 
eleven pins, and a knitting needle folded up in 
divers folds, &c. He said the spirit bad him 
not to hearken to me in any case ; that the witch 
said she should make an end of him, &c. I wished 
him to pray for the witch, which he did ; then the 
child did declare that now he was perfectly himself, 
and desired that his books, pens, ink, cloaths, might 
be blessed, wishing his parents, sisters, and bro- 
thers, to bless themselves, and become Catholics ; 
out of which faith, by God's grace, he said, he 
would never live or die. On Sunday I exorcised 
him, and learned of him, that while puritans were 
in place, he saw the devil assault him in form of a 

The boy's fits and trances continued, sometimes 


apparently yielding to the exorcisms of the priests, 
and then again returning as violent as ever. Mean- 
while the woman accused of the witchcraft by the 
possessing devils, was arrested and carried before 
the chancellor of the bishop of Litchfield, by, whose 
directions William Perry was brought to confront 
her, when he immediately fell into his usual fits, 
declaring that she was his tormenter. On this evi- 
dence she was committed to Stafford jail, and 
brought to trial on the tenth of August, but the 
jury, not satisfied with the evidence, acquitted 

The judges, who seem to have suspected the 
truth, committed the boy to the care of the bishop 
of Coventry and Litchfield, who happened to be 
present, and he carried him home with him to 
EccleshaU castle. There his fits and convulsions 
were repeated, and the bishop for some time could 
make nothing of him. At length he bethought 
himself of an experiment which would at least 
satisfy himself. It appears that the trial verse used 
by the priests was the first verse of the first chapter 
of the gospel of St John, the words of which were 
no sooner commenced than the boy was seized with 
the most violent symptoms. The bishop took a 
GFreek Testament in his hand, and said to the pa- 
tient, " Boy, it is either thou or the devil that 
abhorrest those words of the Gospel, and if it be the 
devil, he (being so ancient a scholar as of almost 
«ix thousand years' standing) knows and under- 
stands all languages, so that he cannot but know 
when I recite the same sentence out of the Greek 
text ; but if it be thyself, then art thou an execra- 



ble wretch, who plays the devil's part, wherefore 
look to thyself, for now thou art to be put to trial, 
and mark diligently whether it be that same scrip- 
ture which shall be read/' Then the bishop read 
the twelfth verse of the chapter, and the boy sup- 
posing it was the first, fell into his usual convul- 
sions : but, after the fit was passed over, and the 
bishop read the first verse, the boy thinking it was 
some other passage, was not affected at all. 

The bishop was thus convinced of the imposture, 
but there were still some extraordinary features 
about the case which required explanation, and he 
let it go on, that it might be in the end more fully 
exposed. At length a hole was made through the 
partition of the room in which the boy slept, and 
the bishop placed one of his servants secretly to 
watch. A discovery was thus made which left no 
further doubt on the matter, and when the boy 
found himself detected, he changed countenance 
and confessed. The story he told was, that an old 
man called Thomas, with gray hair and " a cradle 
of glasse,'' met him not far from his father's house, 
and, entering into conversation with him, suggested 
this imposture as ,a, means of staying from schooL 
He then taught him to roll about, groan, cast up 
his eyes, &c., and told him to accuse somebody who 
was reputed a witch. Some papists, he said, re- 
commended him to seek help of the Catholic priests. 
When the bishop asked him if he did not design to 
yield to their exorcisms, he replied that he did, but 
that he had continued the imposture so long, be^ 
cause- much people resorted to him, and brought 
him good things, and because he was not willing to 


go to school again. It is not impossible that the 
story of the old man had been suggested by the 
priests themselves, in order to conceal their own 
complicity in case of a discovery of the fraud. 

The dangerous doctrine, which had long before 
been acted upon in the case of the witches of War- 
boys, was now widely promulgated, that the decla- 
ration of the person bewitched, while in the fits 
caused by witchcraft, was sufficient evidence against 
the supposed offender. This was opening a door 
for the indulgence of personal enmity which could 
not fail to be often taken advantage of, and such 
cases appear to have been of ygtj frequent occur- 
rence. In lord Londesborough's volume of manu- 
scripts already alluded to, there are the notes of 
two very curious affairs of this kind. The first of 
these cases occurred in and near London in the 
year 1622. The lady Jennings, living at Thistle- 
worth, had a daughter named Elizabeth, of the age 
of thirteen years. One day she was " frighted with 
the sight of an old woman who suddainly appeared 
to her att the dore and demaunded a pin of her," — 
this seems to have been the usual article which the 
witches asked of those they were going to torment 
— and from that time the child suffered from con- 
vulsive fits of the most painful description. A 
variety of remedies were tried in vain, and in the 
course of this treatment a woman named Margaret 
Russell, who went by the name of Countess, fre- 
quently attended — she appears to have been well 
known at the house, and to have interfered with 
the medical arrangements. On the 25th of April, 
at the end of one of her fits, Elizabeth Jennings 


uttered the names of this woman and three others, 
and then went on talking incoherently, " These 
have bewitched all my mother's children — east, 
west, north, and south, all these lie — ^all these are 
witches. Set up a great sprig of rosemary in the 
middle of the house — I have sent this child to 
speak to show all these witches. Put Countess in 
prison this child will be well. — ^If she had been 
long ago, all together had been aUve [it appears 
some other children of the lady Jennings had died]. 
— ^Them she bewitched ijith a cat-stick — ^Till then 
•I shall lie in great pain. — ^Till then by fits I shall 
be in great extremity. — They died in great misery.^' 
These and some other speeches are duly attested by 
nine persons, among whom was the medical at- 

The same day Countess was arrested and carried 
before sir WiUiam Slingsby, a justice of the peace, 
and her account of herself is a curious picture of 
the time. She isaid, "that yesterday she went to 
Mrs. Dromondbye in Blacke-and- White-court in the 
Old Bayly e, and told her that the lady Jennings had 
a daughter strangely sicke, whereuppon the said 
Dromondbye wished her to goe to inquire att Clerk- 
enwell for a minister's wifie that cold helpe people 
that were sicke, but she must not aske for a witch 
or a cunning woman, but for one that is a phisi- 
tion woman, and there this examinate found her 
and a woman sitting with her, and told her in what 
case the child was, and she said shee wold come 
this day, but shee ought her noe service, and said 
she had bin there before and lefte receiptes there, 
but the child did not take them. And she said 


further, that there was two children that the lady 
Jennins had by this husband that were bewitched 
and dead, for there was controversie betweene two 
bowses, and that as long as they dwelt there they cold 
not prosper, and that there shold be noe blessing in 
that house by this man. And being demaunded 
what she meant by the difference betwixt two 
howses, she answered it was betwixt the house of 
God and the house of the world ; but being urged 
to expresse it better, she said wee knewe it well 
enough, it was the difference betwixt Higgins the 
apothecarie, the next neighbour, and the lady Jen- 
nins. And shoe further confesseth that above a 
moneth agoe she went to Mra Saxey, in Grunpouder- 
alley, who was forespoken herselfe, and that had a 
booke that cold helpe all those that were fore- 
spoken, and that shee wold come and shewe her the 
booke and helpe her under Grod. And further said 
to this examinate, that none but a seminary preist 
cold cure her.'' We have here another instance 
how busy the seminary priests, or Jesuits, were in 
obtruding themselves in such cases. 

Countess was now committed to Newgate, and 
next day new revelations were obtained from the 
bewitched child confirmatory of the former accusa- 
tion. But meanwhile the minister's wife, (Mrs. 
Goodcole,) with her husband and some friends, 
went to the Old Bailey, and being confronted with 
the prisoner, the latter denied the most important 
part of what she had said. In fact, the accusation 
seems to have arisen out of a private quarrel, and on 
application to an experienced physician, Dr Napier, 
the lady Jennings was set at ease as to the ailment 


of her daughter — so we learn from a note at the 
end of the paper. 

The other case recorded in lord Londesborough's 
manuscript occurred in 1626, and is still more re- 
markable. On the 13th of August in that year, a 
man named Edward Bull and a woman named 
Joan Greedie were indicted at Taunton assizes for 
bewitching one Edward Dinham. This man, when 
in his fits, had two voices besides his own, " whereof 
one is a very pleasant voice and shriU, the other 
deadly and hollow ;"" the third was his own voice. 
When the two first (who were good and evil spirits 
that possessed him) spoke, there was no motion of 
his lips or tongue, which however moved as was 
usual with a man talking when his own voice was 
heard. No doiibt he was a ventriloquist. The 
dialogue, as taken down in the paper before me, 
bears a close resemblance to the conversations of 
the possessed nuns in France— it is too gross an 
imposture to deceive any one for a moment. (I use 
good and had, for the two spiritual voices, and man 
for the natural voice, as more simple than the mode 
of expressing than in the manuscript.) The conver- 
sation began as foUows : — 

" Oood. Howe comes this man to bee thus tor- 
mented ? 

" Bad. He is bewitched. 

" Oood. Who hath done it ? 

" Bad. That I may not tell. 

" Good. Aske him agayne. 

" Man. Come, come, prithee tell me who hath 
bewitched me. 

^^ Bad. A woman in greene cloathes and a blacke 


hatt; with a longe poll ; and a man in gray srite 
with blewe stockinges. 

" Oood. But where are they ? 

*^ Bad. Shee is at her house ; and hee is at a 
taveme in YeohuU in Ireland 

" GfoocL But what are theire names ? 

" Bad. Nay, that I will not telL 

" Good. Aske him againe. 

" Man. Come, come, prithee tell me what are 
their names. 
,. '* Bad I am bound not to telL 

" Ghod. Then tell half of their names. 

" Bad. The one is Johane, and the other Ed- 

" Oood. Nowe tell me the other half 

" Bad That I may not 

" Oood. Aske him agajme. 

^' Man. Come, come, prithee tell me the other 

" Bad The one is Grreedie, and the other BulL'' 

Having obtained this information, a messenger 
was sent to a house '^ suspected,'^ and finding a 
woman dressed according to the description, he caused 
her to be arrested and committed to safe custody. 
The conversation then went on as follows. 

" Ghod. But are these witches ? 

" Bad Yes, that they are. 

" Chod. Howe came they to bee soe ? 

" Bad. By discent. 

" Oood. But howe by discent ? 

*' Bad. From the grandmother to the mother, and 
from the mother to the children. 

^* Oood, But howe were they soe ? 



" Bad. They were bound to us, and wee to 

" Ghod, Lett me see the bond. 

"Bad. Thou shalt not. 

" Good. Let me see it, and if I like I will seale 

" Bad. Thou shalt if thou wilt not reveale the 
contentes thereof. 

" Good. I will not'' 

The bond is now supposed to be shown, on which 
the good spirit exclaims, — 

" Good. Alas ! oh pittifuU, pittifull, pittifiill ! 
what? eight scales, bloody scales, four dead, and 
four alive ? ah, miserable ! 

"Man. Come, come, prithee tell me, why did 
they bewitche me ? 

" Bad. " Because thou didst call Johane Greedie 

" Man. Why, is shee not a witche ? 

" Bad. Yes, but thou shouldest not have said 

" Good. But why did Bull bewitche him ? 

" Bad. Because Greedie was not stronge 

Inquiry is again made after Bull, and on follow- 
ing the direction given by the spirit, the messenger 
finds the spot from which he had just escaped, and 
meets with people who had seen him running away. 
A conversation follows on the mischiefs which the 
witches had perpetrated before they attacked this 
man, and we learn that they had bewitched a person 
to death. The conversation is resumed in another 
fit six days after, and another attempt to 


his opinions would, if followed out, have led him 
much further than he would venture then to go. 
Cotta requires that the eyidence against persons 
accused of witchcraft should be of a direct and 
practical description. He recommended that in all 
cases of supposed witchcraft or possession, skilful 
physicians should be employed to ascertain if the 
patient might not be suffering from a natural ma- 
lady, and he pointed out the faUacy which attended 
the doctrine of witches' mark& He showed how 
little faith could generally be placed in the con- 
fessions of the witches, both from the manner in 
which they were obtained, and the characters of 
the individuals who made theuL He exposed in 
the same rational manner the uncertainty of such 
objectionable modes of trying witches, as swimming 
them in the waters, scratching, beating, pinching, 
or drawing blood from them. He objected also 
to taking the supernatural revelations in those who 
were bewitched as evidence against those who were 
accused of bewitching them. It will be seen that 
all the evidence at that time considered conclusive 
would thus have been rendered of no account But 
Cotta was in advance of his age ; he published his 
book in 1616, when king James's doctrines pre- 
vailed in full force, and it attracted little attention; 
a new and much enlarged edition, published in 
1624, does not appear to have been much better 
received — at least it had no effect in checking the 
persecution to which so many unfortunate creatures 
were exposed. 




The great witch persecution in England arose 
under the commonwealth. The ardent religious 
feelings of the puritans led them to believe not only 
that they were themselves supported by divine in- 
spiration and favoured with special revelations, but 
that Satan was as actively at work against them, 
and that, as with the heroes of the Homeric age, 
the warfare in which they were thrown engaged the 
spiritual no less than the carnal world. It was na- 
tural, therefore, that they should look with especial 
horror and hostility on that union of Satan and 
mankind which was embodied in the witch or sor- 
cerer. They were the more apparent manifestations 
of the devil's own interference in the attempt to 
bring back the double tyranny of kingship and 
popery. It is impossible now to say how far the 
prosecutions of witches at this period belonged to 
the personal animosities of religious and political 

VOL. IL p 

' m m f m 


party, but there can be Kttle doubt that some at 
least of those who suffered were martyrs to their 
loyalty. The first name which ushers in the melan- 
choly list during this period is that of Dr. Lamb, 
who had been the favourite Buckingham's domestic 
magician, and who was torn to pieces by the London 
mob in 1640. 

The great outbreak of fanaticism and superstition 
which followed began in the county of Essex. In 
the spring of 1645, several witches were seized at 
Manningtree, and were subsequently condemned 
and hanged One of these was an old woman named 
Elizabeth Clarke, and the most important witness 
against her was " Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, 
gent.'' It appears that this Hopkins had watched 
with her several nights in a room in the house of a 
Mr. Edwards, in which she was confined, to keep her 
from sleeping until she made a confession, and to 
see if she were visited by her familiars. He de- 
clared, among other things, that on the night of the 
24th of March, which appears to have been the 
third night of watching, after he had refused to let 
her call one of her imps or familiars, she confessed 
that about six or seven years before she had surren- 
dered herself to the devil, who came to her in the 
form of " a proper gentleman, with a laced band." 
Soon after this a little dog appeared, fat and short 
in the legs, in colour white with sandy spots, which, 
when he hindered it from approaching her, va- 
nished from his sight. She confessed that it was 
one of her imps, named Jarmara. Immediately 
after this had disappeared, another came in the 
form of a greyhound, which she called Vinegar 


Tom ; and it was followed by another in the shape 
of a polecat. " And this informant [Hopkins] fur- 
ther saith, that going from the house of the said 
Mr. Edwards to his own house about nine or ten 
of the clock that night, with his greyhound with 
him, he saw the greyhound suddenly give a jump, 
and ran as she had been in a full course after a 
hare ; and that when the informant made haste to 
see what his greyhound so eagerly pursued, he 
espied a white thing about the bigness of a kitlin, 
{kitten,) and the greyhound standing aloof from it ; 
and that by and by the said white imp or kitten 
danced about the said greyhound, and by all likeli- 
hood bit a piece of the flesh of the shoulder of the 
greyhound, for the greyhound came shrieking and 
crying to this informant with a piece of flesh torn 
from her shoulder. And this informant further 
saith, that coming into his own yard that night, he 
espied a black thing, proportioned like a cat, only it 
was thrice as big, sitting on a strawberry-bed, and 
fixing its eyes on this informant; and when he 
went towards it, it leaped over the pale towards this 
informant, as he thought, but ran quite through the 
yard, with his greyhound after it to a great gate, 
which was underset with a pair of tumbrill-strings, 
and did throw the said gate wide open, and then 
vanished ; and the said greyhound returned again 
to this informant, shaking and trembling exceed* 


Hopkins had not ventured to remain with the 
witch alone in his watchings, for he had with him 
one John Sterne, of Manningtree, who also added 
" gentleman'' to his name, and who confirmed every- 

H 2 


thing that Hopkins had said, deposing to the coming 
of the imps, and adding that the third imp was 
called Sack-and-sugar. They watched at night with 
another woman, named Rebecca West, and saw her 
imps in the same manner. She confessed, and 
stated that the first time she saw Satan, he came to 
her at night, told her he must be her husband, and 
married her. The severe treatment to which the 
persons accused were exposed soon forced confes- 
sions from them all, and they avowed themselves 
guilty of mischiefs of every description, from the 
taking away of human life to the spoiling of milk. 
Some of their imps had caused storms at sea, and 
thus the ships of people against whom they were 
provoked were cast away. The names and forms of 
their imps were equally fantastic. Rebecca Jones, 
*a witch brought from St Osythe's, said that she had 
met a man in a ragged suit, with great eyes that 
terrified her exceedingly, and that he gave her three 
things like moles, but without tails, which she fed 
with milk. Another had an imp in the form of a 
white dog, which she called Elimanzer, and which 
she fed with milk-pottage. One had three imps^ 
which she called Prick-ear, Jack, and Frog ; ano- 
ther had four, named James, Prick-ear, Robin, and 
Sparrow. Several witnesses — poor and ignorant 
people — were brought to testify to the mischief 
which had been done by these means; and some 
declared that they had seen their imps. A coun- 
tryman gravely related how, passing at day-break 
by the house of one of the women accused, named 
Anne West, he was surprised to find her door 
open at that early hour, and looking in, he saw 

^^^^^^^^■"""^^^P**^^ J "-^', r- if 

Hopkins's pbogeedinos. 149 

three or four things like black rabbits, one of 
which ran after him. He seized upon it and tried 
to kill it, but it seemed in his hands like a piece of 
wool, and stretched out in length as he pulled it 
without any apparent injury. Then recollecting 
that there was a spring near at hand, he hurried 
thither and attempted to drown it, but it vanished 
from his sight as soon as he put it in the water. 
He then returned towards the house, and seeing 
Anne West standing outside the door in her smock, 
he asked her why she sent her imps to torment 

This seems to have been the first appearance of 
Matthew Hopkins in the character of a witch-finder, 
for which he became afterwards so notorious, and 
which he now assumed as a legal profession. He 
proceeded in a regular circuit through Suffolk, 
Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdon, accom- 
panied with John Sterne and a woman whose busi- 
ness it was to examine the bodies of the females in 
search of their marks. In August of 1645, we find 
them at Bury, in Suffolk, where, on the 27th of that 
month, no less than eighteen witches were executed 
at once, and a hundred and twenty more were to 
have been tried, but a sudden movement of the 
king's troops in that direction obliged the judges to 
adjourn the session. Some of the imps here ap- 
peared in the shapes of snakes, wasps, and hornets, 
and even of snails. They were mostly employed in 
petty offences ; one man and his wife were guilty 
only of having bewitched the beer in a brewhouse 
and making it stink. Others, however, confessed 
that they had raised tempests and storms, and 

150 80BCEBT AND MAaiC. 

caused mischief of a much more serious character. 
One woman declared that she had conceived two 
children by the devil, " but as soon as she was deli- 
vered of them they ran away in most horrid long 
ugly shapes.'' Anne Leach, of Mistley, Essex, who 
was tried here, said that the imps '' did mischief 
wherever they went, and that when this examinant 
did not send and employ them abroad to do mis- 
chief, she had not her health, but when they were 
employed she was healthful and well/' 

The most remarkable victim of this inquisition at 
Bury was an aged cle]:gyman named Lowes, who 
had been vicar of Brandeston near Framlingham in 
that county, fifty years, a well-known opponent of 
the new church government. This man, we are 
told by Sterne, one of the inquisitors, " had been 
indicted for a common imbarrator, and for witch- 
craft, above thirty years before, and the grand jury 
(as I have heard) found the bill for a common im- 
barrator, who now, after he was found with the 
marks, in his confession he confessed that in pride 
of heart to be equal, or rather above God, the devil 
took advantage of him, and he covenanted with 
the devil, and sealed it with his blood, and had 
those familiars or spirits, which sucked on the 
marks found on his body, and did much harm both 
by sea and land, especially by sea, for he confessed, 
that he being at Lungarfort [Landguard-fort] in 
Suffolk, where he preached, as he walked upon the wall 
or works there, he saw a great sail of ships pass by, 
and that, as they were sailing by, one of his three 
imps, namely, his yellow one, forthwith appeared to 
him and asked him what he should do, and he bad 


it go and sink such a ship, and showed his imp a 
new ship amongst the middle of the rest, (as I re- 
member,) one that belonged to Ipswich, so he con- 
fessed the imp went forthwith away, and he stood 
still and viewed the ships on the sea as they were a 
sailing, and perceived that ship immediately to be 
in more trouble and danger than the rest ; for he 
said the water was more boisterous near that than the 
rest, tumbling up and down with waves, as if water 
had been boiled in a pot, and soon after (he said) in 
a short time it sunk directly down into the sea as 
he stood and viewed it, when all the rest sailed 
down in safety ; then he confessed he made fourteen 
widows in one quarter of an hour. Then Mr. Hop- 
kins, as he told me, (for he took his confession,) 
asked him, if it did not grieve him to see so many 
men cast away in a short time, and that he should 
be the cause of so many poor widows on a sudden ; 
but he swore by his Maker, no, he was joyful to see 
what power his imps had : and so likewise confessed 
many other mischiefs, and had a charm to keep him 
out of the jail and hanging, as he paraphrased it 
himself, but therein the devil deceived him ; for h^ 
was hanged that Michaelmas time, 1645, at Bury St. 
Edmunds ; but he made a very far larger confession, 
which I have heard hath been printed ; but if it 
were so, it was neither of Mr. Hopkins' doing nor 
mine own, for we never printed anything until 

Perhaps Hopkins, when scared by the royal troops, 
returned homeward from Bury to Ipswich, where 
a poor woman named Lakelaw was burnt on the 
ninth of September. She confessed that she had 


been a witcH nearly twenty years, and that she had 
bewitched to death her own husband and a person 
who had refused to give her a needle, besides de- 
stroying several ships, yet she had always appeared 
to be a very religious woman, and was a constant 
attendant at church. She had three imps in the 
shapes of two little dogs and a mole. 

At Yarmouth, Hopkins sacrificed sixteen persons, 
all of whom made confessions. One woman had 
been in the habit of doing work for one of the alder- 
men, who was a stocking merchant. One day, when 
he was absent from home, she went to his house to 
ask for work, and was turned away contemptu- 
ously by his man. She then applied to the maid- 
servant for some knitting, but was received no more 
favourably. She went home in great distress and 
anger, and in the middle of the night, hearing a 
knock at the door, she rose from her bed to look out 
at the window, and there saw a tall black man. He 
told her he knew of the ill-treatment she had re- 
ceived, and that he was come to give her the means 
of revenge ; and, after having made her write her 
name in a book he drew from his pocket, he gave her 
some money, and went away. Next night he ap- 
peared again, and told her he had not the power to 
injure the man because he went regularly to hear 
pious ministers and said his prayers night and morn- 
ing ; and it was then agreed that he should punish the 
maid. The night following he returned with the same 
story as regarded the maid, but he said there was a 
child in the family that might be injured. The 
woman having consented, he came next night with 
an image of wax intended to represent the child, 


and they went together to the churchyard and 
buried it The child was immediately taken ill, 
and it had languished in this condition eighteen 
months, when the witch was seized and brought to 
the witch-finder's "justice." She was taken to the 
room where the child lay, and she had no sooner re- 
peated her confession there, than it began to recover. 
They took the woman next morning to the church- 
yard, where she pointed to the exact spot where the 
waxen image was buried, but when they dug they 
found nothing. The devil, it seems, had carried it 
away. This woman's familiar came to her in the 
shape of a blackbird. 

The infection thus set a going by Hopkins in one 
part of the kingdom, soon spread itself to others, 
and the whole island seemed on a sudden to be filled 
with malignant witches. In this same month of 
September, 1645, three witches were executed at 
Faversham in Kent. They had signed covenants 
to the evil one with their blood. One of them said, 
that about three-quarters of a year before, when she 
first became a witch, " as she was in the bed about 
twelve or one of the clock in the night, there lay a 
ragged soft thing upon her bosom, which was Very 
soft, and she thrust it off with her hand ; and she 
saith that when she had thrust it away, she thought 
God forsook her, for she could never pray so well 
since as she could before ; and further saith, that 
she verily thinks it was alive." Another, who had 
been twenty years acquainted with a demon which 
first appeared to her in the shape of a hedgehog, 
but as soft as a cat, " at her first coming into the 
jail spake very much to the others that were appre- 

H 5 


hend^d before her to confess if they were guilty ; 
and stood to it very perversely that she was clear of 
any such thing, and that if they put her into the 
water to try her, she should certainly sink. But 
when she was put into the water, and it was appa- 
rent that she did float upon the water, being taken 
forth, a gentleman to whom before she had so confi- 
dently spoken, and with whom she offered to lay 
twenty shillings to one that she could not swim, 
asked her how it was possible that she could be so 
impudent as not to confess herself, when she had so 
much persuaded the others to confess ; to whom she 
answered, that the devil went with her all the way, 
and told her that she should, sink, but^ when she 
was in the water, he sat upon a cross-beam and 
laughed at her/' The third of the Faversham 
witches, whose term of twenty years for which she 
had sold herself to Satan was nearly expired, and 
whose familiar was a little dog named Bun, deposed 
** that the devil promised her that she should not 
lack, and that she had money sometimes brought 
her she knew not whence, sometimes one shilling, 
sometimes sixpence, never more at once.'' The in- 
capacity of the tempter to give more than a small 
sum of money at a time to any of his victims was a 
peculiar article in the English popular creed. " In 
1645," says Baxter, " in Dorsetshire, I lodged at a 
village on a hill, called (I think) Evershot, in the 
house of the minister, a grave man, who had with 
him]|a son, also a learned minister, that ^ had been 
chaplain to sir Thomas Adams in London. They 
both told me, that they had a neighbour that had 
long lain bed-rid, that told all the occasion f that 


for a long timej being a poor labouring ndan, every 
morning when he went out of his door, he found a 
shilling under his door, of which he told no man, so 
that in a long time, he buying some sheep or swine, 
and seeming rich, his neighbours marvelled how he 
came by it. At last he told them, and was suddenly 
struck lame and bed-rid. They would have me 
speak with the man ; but the snow covering the 
ground, and I being ill, and the witnesses fully cre- 
dible, I forbore." 

Hopkins and his colleagues were encouraged in 
their new profession by the tacit recognition of par- 
liament, who sent a commission of puritanical mi- 
nisters to assist the judges in the assizes. We can 
trace his course imperfectly by the pamphlets of the 
time, which give reports of at least some of the dif- 
ferent trials in which he figured as grand accuser, 
but some of these are now exceedingly rare, and 
many no doubt are lost He was perhaps at Cam- 
bridge towards the end of the year 1645, as a witch 
was hanged there who had an imp in the form of a 
frog. Towards spring the witch-finder-general reach- 
ed Huntingdon, where a rich harvest awaited him. 

The imps of the witches of Huntingdon often as- 
sumed the form of mice, and they were transferable 
from one person to another. They had different 
powers, some being able to kill men, others only 
cattle and animals, while the power of others ex- 
tended only to inanimate things. This was the 
reason why one witch had often several familiars. 
John Winnick, a husbandman, said that having lost 
his purse with seven shillings in it, at which he 
was much grieved, he was one day at noon in the 


bam, making hay-bottles for horses, '^ swearing, 
cursing, and raging,^' and wishing he might have 
help to restore his loss, when the evil one appeared 
to him in the form of a black shaggy beast, with 
paws like a bear, but not quite so large as a coney or 
rabbit, and tempted him by a promise of restitution. 
One of the Huntingdon witches, Joan Wallis, said 
that she one day met a man in black clothes, who 
said his name was Blackman, and asked her if she 
was poor. She " saw he had ugly feet," and was 
afraid. He told her that he would send her two 
familiars named Grrissell and Greedigut, and " with- 
in three or four days Grissell and Greedigut came 
to her, in the shapes of dogs with great bristles of 
hog's hair upon their backs, and said to her they 
were come from Blackman to do what she would 
command them, and did ask her if she did want 
anything, and they would fetch her anything ; and 
she said she lacked nothing. Then they prayed her 
to give them some victuals, and she said she was 
poor and had none to give them, and so they de- 
parted." Yet she confessed that Blackman, Grissell, 
and Greedigut, divers times came to her afterwards, 
and brought her two or three shillings at a time. 
Elizabeth Chandler was accused of having two imps 
named Belzebub and Trullibub ; but she denied it, 
and stated that she called a certain log of wood 
Belzebub, and a stick near it Trullibub. Another 
woman was constrained to confess that she sent her 
familiar, named Pretty, to kill a man's capons. 
The man being brought forward as a witness, de- 
posed, '^ that she coming to bake a loaf at his house 
about three or four years since, being denied, his 


capons did fall a fluttering, and would never eat 
after. And also saith, that about the same time, 
she having a hog in his yard, some of his servants 
set a dog on the same ; for which she said she 
would be revenged, and the next day one of his 
hogs died." 

It was apparently just before his visit to Hunting- 
don to undertake these examinations, which took 
place during the months of March and April of the 
year 1646, that Hopkins went to Kimbolton. The 
reports of his sanguinary proceedings had spread 
consternation far and wide, and it was only here 
and there that any one durst raise a voice against 
him. One of these courageous individuals was John 
Gaule, the minister of Great Staughton, near Kim- 
bolton in Huntingdonshire, who took up the cudgels 
against Hopkins, and provoked his wrath to such a 
degree, that he wrote the following insolent letter to 
one of the chief persons in his parish. " My service 
to your worship presented, I have this day received 
a letter to come to a town called Great Staughton, 
to search for evil-disposed persons called witches, 
(though I hear your minister is far against us 
through ignorance,) I intend to come (God willing) 
the sooner to hear his singular judgment in the be- 
half of such parties. I have known a minister in 
Suffolk preach as much against the discovery in a 
pulpit, and forced to recant it (by the committee) 
in the same place. I much marvel such evil mem- 
bers should have any, much more any of the clergy 
who should daily preach terror to convince such 
offenders, stand up to take their parts against such 
.as are complainants for the king and sufferers them- 


selves with their families and estates. I intend to 
give your town a visit suddenly. I am to come to 
Eimbolton this week, and it shall be ten to one but 
I will come to your town first ; but I would cer- 
tainly know afore whether your town afibrds many 
sticklers for such cattle, or willing to give and afford 
us good welcome and entertainment, as other where 
I have been, else I shall waive your shire, (not as 
yet beginning in any part of it myself,) and betake 
me to such places where I do and may persist with- 
out controU, but with thanks and recompence. So I 
humbly take my leave, and rest your servant to 
be commanded. Matthew Hopkins.'' 

So far was John Gaule from being terrified by 
this threatening epistle, that he immediately made 
it the text of a treatise against the witch-finder 
and his followers, which he published the same 
year under the title of " Select Cases of Conscience 
touching Witches and Witchcraft.'' Gaule was not 
in advance of his age in point of intelligence, 
though his better and more generous feelings re- 
volted at the wholesale cruelties which had been 
provoked by Hopkins and his accomplices. He 
fully believed in the existence of the witches, and 
in the evils which they perpetrated, but he wished, 
like Cotta, that the evidence should be more cau- 
tiously sifted and discriminated. In his enumera- 
tion of the objectionable methods of trying witches, 
he lets us into a secret of Hopkins's practices, which 
show us at once the horrible character of the per- 
secution that was carried on under the direction 
of the witch-finder generaL " To all these signs," 
says Ghaule, " I cannot but add one at large, which 


I have lately learnt, partly from some communica- 
tions I had with one of the witch-finders, (as they 
call them,) partly from the confessions (which I 
heard) of a suspected and committed witch, so 
handled as she said, and partly as the country 
people talk of it. Having taken- the suspected 
witch, she is placed in the middle of a room, upon 
a stool or table, cross-legged, or in some other un- 
easy posture, to which, if she submits not, she is 
then bound with cords ; there is she watched and 
kept without meat or sleep for the space of four- 
and-twenty hours (for they say within that time 
they shall see her imp come and suck). A little 
hole is likewise made in the door for the iftip to 
come in at ; and lest they should come in some less 
discernible shape, they that watch are taught to 
be ever and anon sweeping the room, and if they 
see any spiders or flies, to kill them, and if they 
cannot kill them, then they may be sure they are 
her imps." 

The provision of making a hole in the door shows 
no very intelligent appreciation of the nature of 
spirits^ but it agrees tolerably well with the confes- 
sions of several of Hopkins' victims. Elizabeth 
Clarke, at Manningtree, is said to have confessed 
that when the devil visited her at night, she was 
obliged to rise and let him in when he knocked at 
the door. One witch kept her imp a year and a 
half with oatmeal, and then lost it. Another killed 
her imp ; and another had imps which sucked one 

The horror at first excited by the atrocities com- 
mitted under the regime of the witch-finder-general 


soon gave place to a widely^xtended feeling of in- 
dignation. A lady who lived near Hoxne in Suf- 
folk, told Dr. Hutchinson (the author of the Essay 
on Witchcraft) that when the witch-finders came 
into that neighbourhood, they took a poor woman, 
and by keeping her fasting and without sleep, in- 
duced her to confess that she had an imp named 
Nan. '^ This good gentlewoman told me that her 
husband (a very learned ingenious gentleman) 
having indignation at the thing, he and she went 
to the house, and put the people out of doors, and 
gave the poor woman some meat, and let her go to 
bed ; and when she had slept and come to herself 
she knew not what she had confessed, and had no- 
thing she called Nan but a pullet, that she some- 
times called by that name.'' Tortures like these, 
and even worse, were exercised on parson Lowes 
of Brandeston, to force a confession from him. Dr, 
Hutchinson learnt " from them that watched with 
him, that they kept him awake several nights to- 
gether, and run him backwards and forwards about 
the room, until he was out of breath ; then they 
rested him a little, and then ran him again ; and 
thus they did for several days and nights together, 
till he was weary of his life, and was scarce sensible 
of what he said or did. They swam him at Fram- 
lingham, but that was no true rule to try him by ; 
for they put in honest people at the same time, and 
they swam as well as he.'' 

To escape the odium which pursued him through 
the counties in which he had made himself so con- 
spicuous, Hopkins appears to have now removed 
the scene of his labours into other parts of the 


kingdom. We find him not long after this at Wor- 
cester. On the fourth of March, probably of the 
year 1647, four witches were condemned in that 
city, and Matthew Hopkins was one of the prin- 
cipal witnesses. After the same process of watch- 
ing her, he extracted from one of them a confession 
that Satan had appeared to her as a handsome 
young man, that he said he came to marry her, and 
that he accordingly took her as his wife. Another 
said that she only enjoyed her health while her imp 
was employed in doing mischief. These were imi- 
tations of the confessions made in Essex and Suf- 
folk. The witches at Worcester said they tormented 
and killed people by making figures of wax, and 
sticking pins and needles into them. On their 
trial, one of them denied their confession, and said 
that when they confessed they were not in their 

On his return to his native county, Hopkins was 
assailed on every side by the outcries of his enemies, 
and he was alarmed at the indignation which his 
cruelties had excited. The extraordinary scale on 
which he had carried on his prosecutions, gave rise 
to a popular report that he was not himself unac- 
quainted with Satan, from whom it was pretended 
by some that he had obtained the list of his sub- 
jects. Complaints had been publicly made against 
him, and his method of proceeding was laid aside 
as too rigorous and tyrannical. In fact, a great 
reaction had followed him in his course, and the 
witch-finder was now in disgrace. Hopkins felt 
this, and winced under the popular attacks. It ap- 
pears that he was of a weak constitution, and vex- 


ation and regret hastened the hereditary consump- 
tion to which he was a prey. He returned to Man- 
ningtree in 1647, printed a pamphlet in his own 
defence,* and then died. This we learn from his 
coadjutor Sterne, who assures us that he had " no 
trouble of conscience for what he had done, as was 
falsely reported of him.'* A report was afterwards 
circulated, apparently without any foundation in 
truth, although adopted by Butler, that in the 
midst of the popular indignation against the witch- 
finder, some gentlemen had seized on him and put 
him to the trial of swimming, on which, as he hap- 
pened to swim, he was adjudged to be himself a 
wizard.'f Upon the death of Hopkins, the popular 

* " The Discovery of Witches, in answer to several queries 
lately delivered to the judge of assize for the county of Nor- 
folk; and was published by Matthew Hopkins, witch-finder» 
for the benefit of the whole kingdom. Printed for E. Boyston, 
at the Angel, in Iron Lane. 1647." This is a very rare tract, 
and the only copy I know of was in the possession of sir Walter 
Scott, from whose " Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft " I 
take the title. 

f The lines of Hudibras have been often quoted — 

Hath not this present parliament 

A lieger to the devil sent, 

Fully empower'd to set about 

Finding revolted witches out ? 

And has he not within a year 

Hanged threescore of them in one shire ? 

Some only for not being drown'd, 

And some for sitting above ground 

Whole days and nights upon their breeches, 

And feeling pain, were hang'd for witches. 

And some for putting knavish tricks 

Upon green geese or Turkey chicks ; 

JOHN sterne's defence. 163 

odium seems to have fallen on his colleague Sterne, 
who had taken up his residence at Lawshall, near 
Bury St Edmunds. In 1648, provoked by the 
reflections that had been cast on himself and his 
colleague Hopkins, he published a defence of their 
conduct, under the title of " A Confirmation and 
Discovery of Witchcraft," in which he boasts that 
he had been part an agent in convicting about two 
hundred witches in Essex, Suflblk, Northampton- 
shire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Cam^ 
bridgeshire, and the Isle of Ely. He assures us 
" that in many places I never received penny as 
yet, nor any am like, notwithstanding I have hands 
for satisfaction, except I should sue ; but many 
rather fall upon me for what hath been received, 
but I hope such suits will be disannulled, and that 
where 1 have been out of moneys for towns in 
charges and otherwise, such course will be taken 
that I may be satisfied and paid with reason.''* 
Hopkins himself, in defending himself against the 
charge of interestedness, tells us that his regular 
charge was twenty shillings for each town, in- 
cluding the expenses of living, and journeying 
thither and back. In his book, he confesses that 

Or pigs that suddenly deceased 
Of griefs unnatural, as he guess'd, 
Who proved himself at length a witch, 
And made a rod for his own hreech. 

HuDiBRAs, Part ii. Canto 8. 
* A copy of this excessively rare hook is in the rich library 
of works on demonology of Mr. James Grossley of Manchester. 
I only know it through the extracts given in that gentleman's 
recent edition of Potts' Discovery of Witches. 


besides the other practices of stripping the yictims 
naked, and thrusting pins into various parts of 
their body, in search of marks, and swimming them, 
he had practised the new torture of keeping them 
awake, and forcing them to walk, which was an in- 
vention of his own ; but he acknowledges that he 
had been so far obliged to yield to public opinion 
in the latter part of his course, as to lay aside this 
his own favourite remedy. 

The violent persecution excited by Hopkins had 
now subsided, and it was followed by a calm, during 
which we hear but little of accusations of witch- 
craft The independents, who had gained the 
ascendancy, seem to have discouraged prosecutions 
of this kind. Yet, in 1649, soon after the execu- 
tion of the king, we perceive an inclination to 
revive the prosecutions against witches. In the 
May of that year, the city of Worcester was again 
the scene of a tragedy of this kind. A boy, at Droit- 
wich, whose mother, a poor woman, had a cow that 
had strayed, was sent in search of it As he came 
near a brake, he thought he saw the buUrushes 
move in one place, and, imagining the cow might 
be grazing amongst them, he approached the 
spot ; but he had no sooner come near, than an old 
woman suddenly jumped up and cried " boh \" 
The lad was seized with sudden terror, became 
speechless, and hurried home in a state of distrac- 
tion. He remained in the house till the evening, 
and then he was seized with a sudden fit, ran out, 
and directed his steps towards the house of sir 
Richard Barret, where, as was usual in the olden 
time, a number of poor people were collected at the 


door feeding upon the charity of the family. Among 
these the lad discovered the old woman of the 
brake, who it appears was a vagrant from Lanca- 
shire/sitting doJJ^ and suppingTpon a mass of hot 
pottage, and he ran furiously at her, thew her pot- 
tage in her face, and struck her. The people who 
stood round interfered, and, when the state of the 
case was known, the old woman was taken and 
committed to the prison, which was there called the 
" Chequer." About the middle of the night, the 
boy's mother heard a noise above her, and hurried 
up to the garret where the boy slept, where she 
found him out of bed, with the leg of a stool 
in his hand, striking furiously at the window. He 
then put on his clothes, ran down into the street, 
and went direct to the prison. It appears that in 
the meantime the jailor, who compassionated the 
sufferings of the boy, had threatened his prisoner 
that she should have nothing to eat until she had 
said the Lord's prayer and a blessing on her victim, 
which with some difficidty she was prevailed upon 
to do. The consequence of this was, that when the 
boy arrived at the prison, he had recovered his 
speech, and was enabled to ask the jailor why he 
had allowed his prisoner to go at large. The jailor 
insisted that she was safe under lock and key. 
" Nay," replied the boy, " I have just seen her my- 
self," and he proceeded to tell him how the old 
woman had come in at his window while he was in 
bed, and how he had jumped up and struck her two 
blows with a stool-leg as she was making her exit, 
which must have left their marks on her body. 
A woman was sent to examine the prisoner's per- 


son, and to her great astonishment she found dis- 
tinct marks of blows, just as the boj had described 
them. These circumstances were deposed to at the 
assizes at Worcester hj the boy, his mother, the 
jailor, and the woman who searched, and the witch 
of course stood duly convicted. About the same 
time a man at Tewkesbury had a sow with a nu- 
merous litter of pigs, and was surprised at the short 
allowance of milk she gave to them. Suspecting 
there might be something wrong, he watched at 
night, and saw a black thing like a polecat come 
and suck the old sow greedily. He immediately 
struck at the depredator with a fork he held in his 
hand, and stuck the prongs into its thigh ; but it 
made its escape through the door, and he lost sight 
of it He followed, however, in the direction which 
he supposed it had taken, and meeting with a man 
he knew, asked him if he had not seen such an 
animal as he described. The man declared he had 
seen nothing but a " wench,'' who passed him appa- 
rently in great haste. This wench was taken and 
examined, and the wounds caused by the prongs of 
the fork were found on her thigh. She was ta]cen 
to Gloucester, and at the next assizes tried and 
convicted. In the month of July following, a man 
and woman were executed at St. Albans ; the man 
confessed he had been a witch sixty years, and that 
he had generally exercised his profession as a white 
or beneficent witch. He was probably one of those 
miserable impostors who gained their living by con- 
juring to cure diseases, and help people to what was 
lost or stolen. His accomplice was a kinswoman, 
who lived with him, and had a familiar in the 


shape of a cat. She acknowledged that this fami- 
liar had promised to bring her anything she wanted, 
except money. They said there were plenty of other 
witches about the neighbourhood, and accused seve- 
ral persons by name. 

This year, however, witnessed a much more re- 
markable affair than any of these, and one which 
made a considerable sensation. It has gained in 
modern times an additional importance from the 
circumstance that our great historical novelist, sir 
Walter Scott, has made it the foundation of one of 
his romances. I shall give it nearly in the words 
of the report written at or near the time. 

After Charles's death, the royal property was con- 
fiscated to the state, and commissioners were ap- 
pointed by parliament to survey and sell the crown 
lands. Among the royal estates was the manor of 
Woodstock, of which the parliamentary commis- 
sioners were sent to take possession in the month 
of October, 1649. The more fanatical part of the 
opponents of royalty had always taught that, 
through witches and otherwise, the devil was ac- 
tively engaged in the service of their opponents, 
battling against them; and they now found him 
resolved upon more open hostilities than ever. On 
the 3rd of October the commissioners, with their 
servants, went to the manor-hall, and took up their 
lodgings in the king's own rooms, the bed-chamber 
and withdrawing-rodjiv : the former they used as 
their kitchen, the council-hall was their brewhouse, 
the chamber of presence served as their place of sit- 
ting to dispatch business, and the dining-room was 
used as a wood-house, where they laid the wood of 


'' that ancient standard in the high park, known of 
all by the name of the king's oak, which (that 
nothing might remain that had the name of king 
affixed to it) they digged up by the roots." On 
the 14th and 15th they had little disturbance ; but on 
the 16th there came, as they thought, something 
into the bed-chamber, where two of the commis- 
sioners and their servant lay, in the shape of a dog, 
which going under their bed, did, as it were, gnaw 
their bed-cords ; but on the morrow finding them 
whole, and a quarter of beef which lay on the 
ground untouched, they " began to entertain other 
thought&'' October 1 7th. — Something, to their think- 
ing, removed all the wood of the king's oak out of 
the dining-room to the presence-chamber, and hurled 
the chairs and stools up and down that room ; 
from whence it came into the two chambers where 
the two commissioners and their servants lay, and 
hoisted up their bed feet so much higher than 
their heads, that they thought they should have 
been turned over and over, and then let them fall 
down with such force, that their bodies rebounded 
from the bed a good distance ; and then shook the 
bedsteads so violently, that they declared their 
bodies were sore with it. On the 1 8th something 
came into the chamber and walked up and down, 
and fetching the warming-pan out of the withdraw- 
ing-room, made so much noise that they thought 
fire-bells could not have made more. Next day 
trenchers were thrown up and down the dining- 
room, and at those who slept there ; one of them 
being wakened, put forth his head to see what was 
the matter, and had trenchers thrown at him. On 


the 20th, the curtains of the bed in the withdraw- 
ing-room were drawn to and fro ; the bedstead was 
much shaken, and eight great pewter dishes and 
three dozen of trenchers thrown about the bed- 
chamber again. This night they also thought a 
whole armful of the wood of the king's oak was 
thrown down in their chamber, but of that in the 
morning they found nothing had been moved. On 
the 21st, the keeper of their ordinary and his bitch 
lay in one of the rooms with them, and on that night 
they were not disturbed at alL But on the 22nd, 
though the bitch slept there again, to which circum- 
stance they had ascribed their former night's rest, 
both they and it were in **apitiful taking,'' the latter 
" opening but once, and then with a whining fearful 
yelp." October 23. — They had all their clothes 
plucked off them in the withdrawing-room, and the 
bricks fell out of the chimney into the room. On 
the 24th they thought in the dining-room that all 
the wood of the king's oak had been brought 
thither, and thrown down close by their bed-side, 
which being heard by those of the withdrawing- 
room, "one of them rose to see what was done, fear- 
ing indeed his fellow-commissioners had been killed, 
but found no such matter. Whereupon returning 
to his bed again, he found two or three dozen of 
trenchers thrown into it, and handsomely covered 
with the bed-clothes." 

. The commissioners persisted in retaining posses- 
sion, and were subjected to new persecutiona On 
the 25th of October the curtains of the bed in 
the withdrawing-room were drawn to and fro, 
and the bedstead shaken, as before; and in the 
VOL. II. ; 


bed-chamber, glass flew about so thick (and 
yet not one of the chamber-windows broken,) 
that they thought it had rained money ; whereupon 
they lighted candles, but " to their grief they found 
nothing but glass."" On the 29th something going 
to the window opened and shut it, them going into 
the bed-chamber, it threw great stones for half an 
hour's time, some whereof fell on the high-bed, 
others on the truckle-bed, to the number in all of 
above fourscore. This night there was also a yery 
great noise, as if forty pieces of ordnance had been 
shot off together. It astonished all the neighbour- 
hood, and it was thought it must have been heard a 
great way off. During these noises, which were heard 
in both rooms together, the commissioners and their 
servants were struck with so great horror, that they 
cried out one to another for help ; whereupon one of 
them recovering himself out of a ^* strange agony"' he 
had been in, snatched a sword, and had like to 
have killed one of his brethren coming out of his 
bed in his shirt, whom he took for the spirit that 
did the mischief However, at length they got all 
. together, yet the noise continued so great and ter- 
rible, and shook the walls so much, that they 
thought the whole manor would have fallen on 
their heads. At the departure of the supernatural 
disturber of their repose, " it took all the glass of the 
windows away with it"" On the first of November, 
something, as the commissioners thought, walked 
up and down the withdrawing-room, and then 
made a noise in the dining-room. The stones 
which were left before, and laid up in the with- 
drawing-room, were all fetcht away this night, and 


a great deal of glass (not like the former) thrown 
about again. 

On the second of November, there came something 
into the withdrawing-ro6m, treading, ^ they con^ 
ceived, much like a bear, which began by walking 
about for a quarter of an hour, and then at length it 
made a noise about the table and threw the warming- 
pan aoviolentlythat itwas quite spoiled It threwalso 
a glass and great stones at the commissioners again, 
and the bones of horses ; and all so violently, that 
the bedstead and the walls were bruised by them. 
That ni^t they planted candles all about the 
rooms, and made fires up to the " rantle-trees'" of the 
chimney; but all were put out, nobody knew how, 
the fire and burnt wood being thrown up and down 
the room ; the curtains were torn with the rods from 
their beds, and the bed-posts pulled away, that the 
test^ fell down upon them, and the feet of the 
bedstead were cloven into two The servants in the 
truckle-bed, who lay all the time sweating for fear, 
ware treated even worse, for there came upon 
them first a little which made them begin to 
stir, but before they could get out, it was fol- 
lowed by a whole tubful, as it were, of stink- 
ing ditch water, so green, that it made their 
shirts and sheets of that colour too. The same 
night the windows were all broke by throwing 
of stones, and there was most terrible noises in 
three several places together near them. Nay, the 
very rabbit-stealers who were abroad that night 
were so afirighted with the dismal thundering, that 
for haste they left their ferrets in the holes behind 
them, beyond Rosamond's well Notwithstanding 

I 2 


all this, one of them had the boldness to ask, in 
the name of God, what it was, what it would have, 
and what they had done that they should be so dis^ 
turbed after this manner. To which no answer was 
given, but the noise ceased for a while. At length it 
came again, and, as all of them said, brought seven 
devils worse than itself Whereupon one of them 
lighted a candle again, and set it between the two 
chambers in the doorway, on which another fixing 
his eyes saw the similitude of a hoof, striking the 
candle and candlestick into the middle of the bed- 
chamber, and afterwards making three scrapes on 
the snuff to put it out Upon this, the same person 
was so bold as to draw his sword, but he had scarce 
got it out, but there was another invisible hand 
had hold of it too, and tugged with him for it ; and 
prevailing, struck him so violently, that he was 
stunned with the blow. Then began violent noises 
again, insomuch that they, calling to one another, 
got together, and went into the presence chamber, 
where they said prayers, and sang psalms ; not- 
withstanding all which, the thundering noises still 
continued in other rooms. After this, on the 3rd 
of November, they removed their lodging over the 
gate ; and next day, being Sunday, went to Ewelm, 
" where, how they escaped the authors of the rela- 
tion knew not, but returning on Monday, the devil 
(for that was the name they gave their nightly 
guest) left them not unvisited, nor on the Tuesday 
following, which was the last day they stayed.'' 
The courage even of the devout commissioners of 
the parliament was not proof against a persecution 
like this, and the manor of Woodstock was relieved 


from their presence. It is said that one of the old re- 
tainers of the house, years afterwards, confessed 
that he had entered the service of the commissioners, 
in order by playing these tricks upon them, which 
he jf as enabled to do by his intimate acquaintance 
with the secret passages of the lodge, to rescue it 
from their grasp. 

Hopkins and Sterne were not without their imi- 
tators in other parts of the country. About the 
end of the year of which we have just been speak- 
ing, the magistrates of Newcastle-upon-Tyne were 
alarmed at the reports of witches in that town, and 
they sent into Scotland for a practiser in the art of 
discovering them. They agreed to pay his travel- 
ling expenses, and give him twenty shillings for 
every witch who should be convicted — an excellent 
method of increasing their number. No sooner was 
the Scotchman arrived in Newcastle, than the bell- 
man was sent round the town to invite all persons 
to bring their complaints against women suspected, 
and about thirty were brou^t to the town hall, 
and subjected, in the sight of all the people collected 
there, to his examination. We are told that his 
practise was to lay the body of the person suspected 
naked to the waist, and then run a pin into her 
thigh, after which he suddenly let her coats fall, 
and asked her if she had nothing of his in her 
body which did not bleed ; the woman was hin- 
dered from replying by shame and fear, and he 
immediately took out the pin and set her aside as a 
convicted witch. By this atrocious process, he as- 
certained that twenty-seven persons were practisers 
of sorcery, and at the ensuing assizes fourteen 


women and a man were found guilty and execnted. 
The names of the suffererB are recorded in the re- 
gister of the parish of St Andrew's. 

Just at the time when the commonwealth was 
merging into the protectorate, in the years 1^52 
and 1653, we find cases of witchcraft becoming 
suddenly more numerous, or, which is perhaps 
nearer die truth, there were for some cause or other 
more printed reports of them. In the former year 
a witch was hanged at Worcester. On the 11th of 
April, 1652, one Joan Peterson, known as the 
witch of Wapping, was hanged at Tyburn. She 
lived in Spruce Island, near Shadwdl, and was 
said to have done on the whole more good than 
harm, for she practised chiefly as a white witdL 
Strange things, however, were told of her. A man 
deposed that he was sitting with her in her house 
and saw her £ajniliar, in the shape of a black dog, 
come in and suck her. And two women said that, 
as they were watching with a child of one of their 
neighbours that was strangdy distempered, ^ about 
midnight they espied (to their thinking) a greai 
black cat come to the cradle's side and stopt the 
cradling, whereupon one of the women took up the 
fire-fork to strike at it, and it immediately 
vanished. About an hour after the cat came again 
to the cradle side; whereupon the other woman 
kicked at it, but it presently vanished, and that 
leg that she kicked with began to swell and be 
very sore, whereupon they were both afraid, and 
calling upon the master of the house, took their 
leave As they were going to their own homes, 
they met a baker, who was likewise a neighbour's 



servant, who told them that he saw a great black 
cat that had so frightened him that his hair stood 
an end ; whereupon the women told him what they 
had seen, who said he thought in his conscience 
that Peterson had bewitched the aforesaid child, 
for, (quoth the baker,) I met the witch a little 
before going down the island.'' The baker gave 
his testimony in court, and when asked by the 
judge the very pertinent question, " whether he had 
not at other times as well as that been afraid of a 
cat, he answered, no, and that he never saw such a 
cat before, and hoped in Grod be should never see 
the like again/' 

On the 30th of July, 1652, no less than six 
witches were condemned at Maidstone in E«nt. In 
addition to the usual circumstances in such cases, 
they confessed that the devil had given them a 
piece of flesh, "which whensoever they should 
touch they should thereby effect their desires ; that 
this flesh lay hid amongst grass, in a certain place 
which she named, where upon search it was found 
accordingly." The flesh was brought into court as 
an evidence against them, and the author of the 
printed report informs us that it '' was of a sinewy 
substance, and scorched, and was seen and felt by 
this observator, and reserved for public view at the 
sign of the Swan in Maidstone." Other witches 
were brought to trial, and some found guilty, but 
four only were hanged. " Some there were that 
wished rather they might be burnt to ai^es ; al- 
ledging, that it was a received opinion amongst 
many that the foody of a witch being burnt, her 
blood is prevented thereby from becoming here- 


ditary to her progeny in the same evil, while by 
hanging it is not ; but whether this opinion be 
erroneous or not, I,'' says the narrator, " am not to 

The following year (1 65S) witnessed the execu- 
tion at Salisbury of a woman who had been in her 
yoimger days the servant of the famous Dr. Lamb. 
Her name was Anne Bodenham, and she appears to 
have been initiated into Lamb's practices, and to 
have settled at Salisbury in the character of a wise 
woman. She helped people to recover things 
stolen, cured diseases, and seems to have carried on 
the practice of poisoning. Many of those charged 
with the crime of witchcraft appear to have been 
secret professors of the art of poisoning. The de- 
positions against Anne Bodenham were of a re- 
markable character. It appears that a little girl 
had been bewitched, and the wise woman Boden- 
ham was accused of being in some way or other 
concerned in it. A servant girl was sent to consult 
her, and she deposed that Anne Bodenham, having 
taken her into ia room in her house, made a circle 
on the floor and carefully swept the space within 
it. She then looked in a glass, and in a book, ut- 
tering certain mysterious words, and placed an 
earthen pan full of coals in the middle of the circle. 
Five spirits then appeared in the shape of ragged 
boys, and at the same time there arose a high wind 
which shook the house. She gave the spirits 
crumbs of bread, which they picked from the floor 
and ate, and then, after they had all leaped over 
the pan of coals, they danced with the witch and 
the maid servant The latter had witnessed this 

_— ,^ - -» ™— 


scene more than once, and on one occasion she was 
carried to a meadow at Wilton to gather vervain 
and dilL She declared that she had seen Anne 
Bodenham transform herself into a great black cat. 
The improvement in intelligence and liberality 
under the protectorate is shown by the publication of 
two treatises, which contained the boldest protests 
against the iniquity of the witch persecution that 
had appeared since the days of Reginald Scott. The 
trials at Maidstone in 1653 had so much shocked 
the good sense of some of the gentlemen of Kent, 
that it produced from one of them, sir Robert 
Filmor, a tract entitled, " An Advertisement to the 
Jury-men of England, touching Witches," in which 
he pointed out the ridiculous absurdity of the 
proofs by which this class of offenders were usually 
convicted- " The late execution of witches at the 
summer assizes in Kent,'' he says, *' occasioned this 
brief exercitation, which addresses itself to such as 
have not deliberately thought upon the great diffi- 
culty in discovering what or who a witch is. To 
have nothing but the public faith of the present 
age, is none of the best evidence, unless the univer- 
sality of elder times do concur with these doctrines, 
which ignorance in the times of darkness brought 
forth, and credulity in these days of light hath con- 
tinued.'' Language like this must have sounded 
strange within six or seven years after the fury of 
persecution which had been excited by Matthew 
Hopkins ; yet in this spirit Filmor proceeds calmly 
to consider and refute each of the reasons on which 
the witch-finders depended, ending with the crown- 
ing proof supposed to be derived from the devil 

I 6 


himself declaring against his victims, '* which, how 
it can be well done, except the deyil be bound over 
to giye in evidence against the witch, cannot be 

This book, which marked the commencement of 
the protectorate, was published anonymously ; but 
two years after, in 1655, a minister of the name of 
Thomas Ady put forth in the same, or even in a 
more enlightened, spirit, a book entitled, ^^ A Candle 
in the Dark, or a treatise concerning the nature of 
witches and witchcraft; being advice to judges, 
sheriffs, justices of the peace, and grand jurymen, 
what to do before they pass sentence on such as are 
arraigned for their u4'aa witches." Ady has en- 
livened his book with a variety of anecdotes and 
scraps of information relating to the popular super- 
stitions of the day, and in speaking of charms, 
which he regards as mere relics of popery, he gives 
the following as the most approved remedy against 
the bewitching of milk when it will not work pro- 
perly in the churn. The maid, while churning, was 
to repeat the words, — 

Come, butter, come ; come, butter, come ; 
Peter stands at the gate. 
Waiting for a butter'd cake ; 
Come, butter, come. 

This, Ady says, was told by an old witch who de- 
clared that her grandmother had learnt it in the 
good days of queen Mary. 

The reign of the protector Oliver was certainly 
not favourable to the persecution of witches. Yet 
two persons, a mother and daughter, were hanged at 


Bury St Edmunds about the year 1655, and in the 
November of 1657 a rather remarkable case oc- 
curred at Shepton Mallet in Somersetshire. A 
woman named Jane Brooks was accused of be- 
witching a boy named Jones, by giving him an 
apple, which he roasted and ate. He was imme- 
diately seized with strange fits, and while under 
their influence he cried out against Jane Brooks 
and her sister as the cause of his suffering. It was 
deposed at the trial that, one Sunday afternoon, in 
company with his father and a cousin named Gib- 
son, he was suddenly visited Ttrith a fit, and he said 
that he saw Jane Brooks against the wall of the 
room, pointing to the spot where he preteQded she 
stood. Gibson took up a knife and struck at the 
part of the wall to which the boy pointed, and the 
latter immediately exclaimed, '^ Oh, father 1 cousin 
Gibson hath cut Jane Brooks's hand, and it is 
bloody I'' They immediately took a constable, and 
went with him to the woman's house, where they 
found her sitting on a stool, with her hands before 
her, one placed on the other. The constable in- 
quired how she did, and she replied, not well. He 
then asked her why she sat in that position, with 
her hands before her, to which she replied that it 
was her wont to do so. When he asked further if 
nothing ailed her hand, she said, " No, it was well 
enougk'' Still not satisfied, he forced one hand 
from under the other, and found it bleeding just as 
the boy had described. On being asked how this 
happened, she said she had scratched her hand 
with a great pin.* This was suflicient matter for 
* The following story is given in Dr. Hutchinson's Histo- 


carrying the woman to prison. It was pretended 
that the boy was often lifted about in an extraordi* 
nary manner; and one woman declared that on 
the 25th of February, 1658, bein^ seized with one 
of her fits while in her house, he went out of the 
house into the garden, and she followed him. 
There she saw him gradually lifted up into the air, 
and pass away over a wall, and she saw no more of 
him till he was found lying at the door of a house 
at some distance, when he declared that he had 
been carried there by Jane Brooks. She was tried 
at Chard assizes, on the 26th of March, 1658, and, 
as might be expected from such conclusive eyi- 
dence, condemned. 

About the period of the protector's death, a 
witch was hanged at Norwich, and several punished 
in the same way in Cornwall ; and in 1659, two 
were hanged at Lancaster, who protested their in* 

rical Essay on Witchcraft. " About the year 1645, there was 
at Chehnsford an afflicted person, that in her fits cried out 
against a woman, a neighbour, which Mr. Clark, the minister 
of the gospel there, could not believe to be guilty of such a 
crime. And it happened, while that woman milked her 
cow, the oow struck her with one horn upon the forehead, and 
fetched blood; and while she was thus bleeding, a spectre in 
her likeness appeared to the person afflicted, who, pointing at 
the spectre, one struck at the place, and the afflicted said, 
* You have made her forehead bleed.* , Hereupon some went 
to the woman, and found her forehead bloody, and acquainted 
Mr. Clark with it; who forthwith went to the woman, and 
asked how her forehead became bloody ; and she answered, 
' by a blow of the cow's horn ;* whereby he was satisfied that 
it was a design of Satan to render an innocent person sus- 



nocence to the last. The approach of a great poli- 
tical change, and the animosities of party which 
attended it, always furnished the opportunity, even 
in humble life, of gratifying personal resentments ; 
and we shall find immediately after the restoration 
that the cases of witchcraft were again numerous. 
At the beginning of the period of the interregnum, 
the devil was the enemy of the republicans, — at its 
close he was opposed to the royalists. On the 14th 
of May, 1660, four persons at Kidderminster, a 
widow, her two daughters, and a man, were charged 
with various acts of witchcraft, and carried to Wor- 
cester jail. The eldest daughter was accused of 
saying that, if they had not been taken, the king 
should never have come to England, " and, though 
he now doth come, yet he shall not live long, but 
shall die as ill a death as they ; and that they 
would have made corn like pepper." These were 
the mere ravings of puritanical discontent, repeti- 
tions probably of sentiments they had heard among 
their neighbours. The relator continues, " Many 
great charges against them, and little proved, they 
were put to the ducking in the river : they would 
not sink, but swam aloft. The man had five teats, 
the women three, and the eldest daughter one. 
When they went to search the women, none were 
visible; one advised to lay them on their backs 
and keep open their mouths, and then they would 
appear ; and so they presently appeared in sight.'' 





In Germany, since the fifteenth century, sorcery 
had been undergoing much the same fate as in 
France and Spain. In the writers of the sixteenth 
century we trace a system of demonology differing 
only in some of its details from that of the other 
countries which we have reviewed, and in some re- 
spects perhaps more complete. It has more bold 
and striking points, a circumstance arising no doubt 
from the fact that here the ancient Teutonic mytho^ 
logy retained a stronger hold upon the popular 
mind. The sites of primitive worship are more dis- 
tinctly marked ; and such mountains as Blocksberg, 
Inselsberg, Weckingstein near Minden, Staffelstein 
near Bamberg, Kreidenberg near Wurzburg, Bon- 
nigsberg near Loccum, Fellerberg near Treves, 
Eandel in Brisgau, and Heuberg in the Schwarz 
forest, which occur as the scenes of the great sab- 


baths of the witches of this period, were no doubt 
sacred places of the early Germans. 

The witchcraft trials in Germany during the six- 
teenth century were numerous and curious, and 
there as elsewhere we can trace their origin often 
in personal feuds, in political enmities, and more 
especially in religious differences.* It was, how- 
ever, at the commencement of the seyenteenth 
century, on the eve of those terrible religious wars 
which tore Germany to pieces, that the prosecu- 
tions against witchcraft took there their girand de- 
velopement They were most remarkable at the 
cities of Bamberg and Wiirzburg, and other places 
where the Roman Catholic religion was prevalent, 
and which were under the immediate influence of 
the Jesuits. Some of the earlier writers on sorcery 
had declared that the increasing number of witches 
in the sixteenth century was owing to the spread of 
protestantism, and the Jesuits now seized upon this 
doctrine as a means of influencing the minds of the 
vulgar against the heretics. It is probable, there^ 
fore, that of the multitudes of persons who perished 
at the stake in Germany during the first half of the 
seventeenth century for sorcery, the only crime of 

♦ The best general treatise on witchcraft in the German 
language is, I believe, that by Dr. W. G. Soldan, '' Ges- 
chichte der Hexenprocesse, aus den Quellen dargestellf' 
(Stuttgart, 1843.) The great collections of materials are 
Horst's Zauber-Bibliothek, and Hauber's Bibliotheca Magica. 
The present chapter is taken chiefly from Soldan's book, with 
which 1 was not acquainted when the earlier part of this book 
was written. ^ 


many was their attachment to the religion of 

The period of the great persecutions of witches in 
Wiirzburg and Bamberg was one of great suffering, 
when the country had been reduced to poverty by a 
merciless war, and when the petty princes of the 
empire were not unwilling to seize upon any pretence 
to fill their coffers ; and it has been remarked that 
in Bamberg, at least, the persons prosecuted were in 
general those, the confiscation of whose property was 
a matter of consideration. At Bamberg, as well as 
at Wiirzburg, the bishop was a sovereign prince in 
, his dominions. There had long been a sUent war 
in this place between Catholicism and the reforma- 
tion, for the latter had gained a footing in the pre- 
ceding age from which its opponents had not yet 
been able to drive it The prince-bishop John 
George IL, who ruled Bamberg from 1 622 to 1 633, 
after several unsuccessful attempts to root out 
Lutheranism from his dominions, commenced his at- 
tacks upon it in 1625, under another name, and the 
rest of his reign was distinguished by a series of 
sanguinary witch-trials which disgrace the annals of 
that city. His grand agent in these proceedings was 
Frederic Forner, suffragan of Bamberg, a blind 
supporter of the Jesuits and a great enemy of here- 
tics and sorcerers, against whom he published a 
treatise imder the formidable title of Panaplia 
armaturce Dei We may form some notion of the 
proceedings of this worthy from the statement of the 
most authentic historians of this city that between 
1625 and 1630, not less than nine hundred trials 


took place in the two courts of Bamberg and Zeil ; 
and a pamphlet published at Bamberg by authority^ 
in 1659, states the number of persons which bishop 
John George had caused to be burnt for sorcery to 
have been six himdred. 

Among the persons thus sacrificed were the chan- 
cellor, his son doctor Horn, with his wife and two 
daughters, and many of the lords and counciUers of 
the bishop's court, and these are stated to have con- 
fessed that above twelve hundred of them had con- 
federated together, and that if their sorcery had not 
been brought to light, they would have brought it 
to pads within four years, that there would have 
been neither wine nor com in the country, and that 
thereby man and beast would have perished with 
hunger, and men be driven to eat one another. 
There were even some catholic priests, we are told, 
among them, who had been led into practices too 
dreadful to be described, and they confessed, among 
other things, that they had baptized many children 
in the devil's name. It must be stated that these 
confessions were made under tortures of the most 
fearful kind, far more so than anything that was 
practised in Prance or other countrie& Two of the 
city magistrates, (burgermeisters,) besides other ex- 
traordinary things they had done, said that they 

had often raised such terrible storms, that houses 
were thrown down and trees torn up by the roots, 
and that it had been their intention to raise such a 
wind as should overthrow the great tower of Bam- 
berg. The wives of one of the burgomasters and 
of the town butcher declared that it was their task 
to make the ointment for the sorcerers, from each 


of wliich they received two pennies a-week, and that 
this amounted in a year to six hundred guldera or 
florins. The burgomaster Neidecker acknowledged 
that he had assisted in poisoning the wells by bgt'- 
eery, so that whoever drank of them would imme- 
diately be struck with pestilence, and that thus 
great multitudes had perished. The history of Ger- 
many shows how easy it was at this time to point 
out the ravages of war, pestilence, and famine It 
was also acknowledged that no less than three thou- 
sand sorcerers and witches assembled at the dance 
on the Ereidenberg mountain near Wurzburg, on 
the night of St. Walpurgis, and that each having 
given a kreuzer to the musician, he gained no less 
than forty giUdera, and that at the same dance they 
drunk seven " fudder " of wine which they had 
stolen from the bishop of Wiirzburg's cellar. There 
were little girls of from seven to ten years of age 
among the witches, and seven-and-twenty of them 
were convicted and burnt The numbers brought 
to trial in these terrible proceedings were so great, 
and they were treated with so little consideration, 
that it was usual not even to take the trouble of 
setting down their names, but they were cited as the 
accused No. 1, 2, 3, and so on. The Jesuits took 
their confessions in private, and they made up the 
lists of those who were understood to have been de- 
nounced by them. 

Lutheranism had been gaining ground in Wiirz- 
burg more even than in Bamberg, and when bishop 
Julius came to the see in 1575, the majority of the 
population was protestant The energy with which 
he set about making converts alarmed many of those 


who had anything to lose in the worlds and the 
number of " heretics'" was thus soon dimmished. 
Nevertheless, bishop Philip Adolph, who came to 
the see in 1623, found a sufficient number of Pro- 
testants to excite his alann, and not daring, in the 
political position of Grermany at that moment, to 
persecute them openly for their religion, he adopted 
the plan of his neighbour of Bamberg. A great 
confederacy of sorcerers was suddenly discovered, 
and during two or three years hundreds of people of 
all ages and conditions were hurried to the stake. 
A catalogue of nine-and-twenty brdnde, or burn- 
ings, during a very short period of time previous to 
the February of 1629, will give the best notion of 
the horrible character of these proceedings; it is 
printed from the original record in Hauber's BiUiO' 
theca Magica. 

" In the first bu/ming, fowr persons. 

The wife of Liebler. 
Old Ancker's widow. 
The wife of Gutbrodt 
The wife of H8cker. 

In the second burning^ fov/r persons. 

The old wife of Beutler. 

Two strange women. 

The old woman who kept the pot-house. 

In the third burning, five persons, 

Tungersleber, a minstrel. 
The wife of Kuler. 


The wife of Stier^ a proctor. 
The brushmaker's wife. 
The goldsmith's wife. 

In the fourth burning^ five persons. 

The wife of Siegmund the glazier, a burgomaster. 
Brickmami's wife. 

The midwife. N.B. She was the origin of all the 

Old Rume's wife. 
A strange man. 

In the fifth burning, nine persons. 

Lutz, an eminent shop-keeper. 
Rutscher, a shop-keeper. 
The housekeeper of the dean of the cathedral. 
The old wife of the court rope-maker. 
Jo. Stembach's housekeeper. 
The wife of Baunach, a senator. 
. A woman named Znickel BabeL 
An old woman. 

In the sixth burning, six persons. 

The steward of the senate, named Gering. 

Old Mrs. Canzler. 

The fat tailor's wife. 

The woman cook of Mr. Mengerdorf 

A strange man. 

A strange woman. 

In the seventh burning, seven persons. 
A strange girl of twelve years old. 


A strange man. 

A strange woman.* 

A strange bailiff (schrdtheUs). 

Three strange women. 

In the eighth burning, seven persons. 

Baunach, a senator, the fattest citizen in WUrz- 
The steward of the dean of the cathedral 
A strange man. 
The knife-grinder. 
The ganger's wife 
Two strange women. 

In the ninth bwming, five persons, 

Wunth, the wheelright 
A strange man. 
Bentze's daughter. 
Bentze's wife herself 
The wife of Eyering. 

In the tenth burning, three persons, 

Steinacher, a very rich man. 
A strange woman. 
A strange man. 

In the eleventh hwmvngy four persons, 

Schwerdt, a vicar-choral in the cathedral. 
Rensacker's housekeeper. 

* It must be understood that strange means, not a citizen of 
Wiirzburg. Perhaps the numerous strange men and women 
were Protestant refugees from other parts. 


The wife of Stiecher. 
Silberhans, a minstrel 

In the twelfth burning^ tufo persona. 
Two strange women. 

In the thirteenth bumingy four persons. 

The old smith of the court. 
An old woman. 

A little girl nine or ten years old 
A younger girl, her little sister. 


In the fourteenth burning, two persons. 

The mother of the two little girls before-men- 
Liebler's daughter, aged twenty*-four yeaxs. 

In the fifteenth burning, two persons. 

A boy of twelve years of age, in the first sdiooL 
A butcher's wife. 

In the siaieenih bwnvingy sias persons, 

A noble page of Ratzenstein, was executed in the 
chancellor's yard at six o'clock in the morning, and 
left upon his bier all day, and then next day burnt 
with the following : — 

A boy of ten years of age. 

The two daughters of the steward of the senate, 
and his maid. 

The fat rope-maker's wife. 

In the seventeenth burning, fov/r persons. 

The inn-keeper of the Baumgarten. 



A boy eleyen years old. 

The wife of the apothecary at the Hirsch (the 
Stag)y and her daughter. 

N.B. A woman who played the harp had hanged 

In the eighteenth burning, six persons, 

Batsch^ a tanner. 
Two boys of twelve years old. 
The daughter of Dr. Junge. 
A girl of fifteen years of age . 
A strange woman. 

In the nineteenth burning, six persons. 

A noble page of Botenham was beheaded at six 
o'clock in the chancellor's yard, and burnt the fol- 
lowing day. 

The wife of the secretary Schellhar. 
A woman. 

A boy of ten years of age. 
Another boy twelve years old. 
Brugler's wife, a cymbal-player (ji>eckin), was 
burnt aUve. 

In the twentieth burning, six persons 

. GobeFs child, the most beautiful girl in Wurzburg. 

A student on the fifth form, who knew many 
languages, and was an excellent musician vocaliter 
et instrwnentaliter. 

Two boys from the new minister, each twelve 
years old. 

Stepper's little daughter. 

The woman who kept the bridge-gate. 


In the twenty-first hwming, six persons. 
The master of the Dietricher hospital, a very 
learned man. 

Stoffel Holtzmann. 

A boy fourteen years old. 

The little son of senator Stolzenberger. 

Two (dAMnni. 

In the twenty-second burning, six persons, 

Sturman, a rich cooper. 

A strange boy. 

The grown-up daughter of senator Stolzenberger. 

The wife of Stolzenberger herself 

The washerwoman in the new building. 

A strange woman. 

In the twenty-third bu/ming, nine persons, 

David Croten's boy, of nine years old, on the se- 
cond form. 

The two sons of the prince's cook, one of four- 
teen years, the other of ten years, from the first 

Melchior Hammelmann, vicar at Hach. 

Nicodemus Hirsch, a canon in the new minster. 

Christopher Berger, vicar in the new minster. 

An aiu/mnus. 

N.B. the bailiff in the Brennerbach court and an 
cUummLS were burnt alive. 

In the twenty-fourth burning, seven persons. 

Two boys in the hospital. 

A rich cooper. 

Lorenz Stiiber, vicar in the new minster. 


Batz, vicar in the new minster. 
Lorenz Roth, vicar in the new minster. 
A woman named Rossleins Martin. 

In the twenty-fifth burning, six person^. 

Frederick Basser, vicar in the cathedral. 

Stab, vicar at Hach. 

Lambrecht, canon in the new minster. 

The wife of Gallus Hansen. 

A strange boy. 

Schelmerei the huckstress. 

In the twenty-sixth burning, seven persons. 

David Hans, a canon in the new minster. 

Weydenbusch, a senator. 

The innkeeper's wife of the Baumgarten. 

An old woman. 

The little daughter of Valkenberger was privately 
executed and burnt on her bier. 

The little, son of the town council bailiff. 

Herr Wagner, vicar in the cathedral, was burnt 

In the twenty-seventh burning, seven persons. 

A butcher, named Kilian Hans. 

The keeper of the bridge-gate. 

A strange boy. 

A strange woman. 

The son of the female minstrel, vicar at Hach. 

Michel Wagner, vicar at Hach. 

Knor, vicar at Hach. 



In the twenty-eigkOi burning, after CancUenuis, 1 629, 

six persons. 

The wife of Enertz the batcher. 
The infant daughter of Dr. Schiitz. 
A blind girl. 

Schwartz, canon at HacL 
Ehling, a vicar. 

Bemhard Mark, vicar in the cathedral, was burnt 

In the twenty-ninth burning, seven persons. 

Viertel Beck. 

The innkeeper at Klingen. 

The bailiff of Mergelsheim. 

The wife of Beck at the Ox-tower. 

The fat noble lady (edelfrau). 

N.B. A doctor of divinity at Hach and a canon 
were executed early at five o'clock in the morning, 
and burnt on their bier. 

A gentleman of Adel, called Junker Fleisch- 

We are assured at the end of this document that 
there were many other burnings besides those here 
enumerated. It appears that, except in particular 
oases, the judges showed so much mercy as to cause 
their victims to be put to death by beheading be- 
fore they were burnt. 

One of the victims on this occasion excited espe- 
cial commiseration, because he was of high rank, a 
kinsman of the bishop himself, on whom he at- 
tended as a page of the court, and because he was 



young, handsome, and interesting. The youthful 
Ernst von Ehrenberg, we are told, was remarkable 
chiefly for the the attention he paid to his studies 
in the university of Wiirzburg, and for the progress 
which he made in them, until he was seduced by 
his aunt, a lady of rank in that city, who received 
him as a kinsman into her family. This lady, the 
Jesuits tell us, was an abandoned witch — ^perhaps 
she was a Protestant — ^and she soon taught her 
nephew to pursue evil courses, until from an undue 
familiarity with herself he proceeded to become a 
familiar of the devil For a while he had sufficient 
dissimulation to conceal his wickedness, until the 
change became evident from his increasing neglect 
of his studies and his religious duties, and instead 
of being as before, remarkable for his attention to 
his books, he now spent his time at play and among 
the ladies. The Jesuit inquisitors were alarmed at 
his conduct, and undertook to discover the cause. 
They found, or pretended to find, by the confessions 
of some of the sorcerers brought to the stake, that, 
through the seductions of his aunt, he had sold 
himself to the devil, and that he had attended the 
sabbaths of the witches. The bishop determined 
to convert his kinsman, if possible, to a different life. 
On his profession of repentance and promise of 
amendment, he was delivered to the care of the 
Jesuits, that he might profit by their teaching, and 
they took him to their house, where they loaded him 
with holy amulets, agnus-Deis, relics, and holy water, 
and appointed one of their order to attend upon him 
both day and night, to protect him against the at- 
tempts of the fiend. The Jesuits, however, soon found, 

K 2 


as they declared, that no distemper was so incurable as 
sorcery. Whenever he had the opportunity, he lay 
aside the holy articles with which he was encum- 
bered at night, and then the devil came to him and 
carried him away to the witches' meetings, from 
whence he contrived to return before four o'clock 
in the morning, the hour when his spiritual in- 
structors rose. Once or twice, however, perhaps 
rising earlier than usual, they found his bed empty, 
and they discovered from this and some other cir- 
cumstances how he spent his nights. They now 
declared that all his promises of amendment were 
only intended to deceive, and that they, entertained 
no further hopes of him. He was accordingly con- 
demned to death, and the judgment was held over 
him in terrorem with the hope that he might still 
be induced to repent. The conclusion of his story 
is dramatically told by the Jesuit who has left us 
a relation of it. The Jesuits were to prepare him 
for death. Early on the morning of the day ap- 
pointed for his execution, — ^it appears that he had 
not been made acquainted with his sentence, — they 
went to him and told him, in ambiguous language, 
that he was to prepare for a better life than that he 
had hitherto led, and then toek him into the castle. 
Here he recognized with an innocent joy the scenes 
of his childish gambols ; " There/' said he, " I 
played, there I drank, there I danced,'' and went on 
making remarks of this kind, until he was con- 
ducted into a room hung with black, where a 
scaffold was erected. Then he turned pale, and 
for a few minutes stood trembling and speech- 
less ; but when the executioners attempted to lay 


their hands upon him, he raised such a cry of 
distress that the judges themselves were moved by 
it, and they went to intercede with the bishop in his 
favour. The prince made a last attempt, and sent 
a messenger to offer him forgiveness if he would 
promise a thorough reformation. But the mes- 
senger returned with an answer that all was in vain, 
for the devil had so hardened the youth, that he 
boldly declared he would remain as he was, that 
he had no need of repentance or change, and 
that if he were not so already, he would wish to 
become so. Then the prince sternly signified his 
will that justice should take its course. They 
dragged the youth again into the dark chamber, 
supported on each side by a Jesuit, who urged him 
to repentance ; but he persisted in saying that he 
needed no repentance, begged for his life, tried to 
wrest himself from the grasp of the officers, and 
gave no attention to the exhortations of the priests. 
At last the executioner seized a favourable mo- 
ment, and in the midst of his struggles to escape 
struck the head from his body at a blow. 

We will not multiply our list of executions of 
witches in Germany. The persecution raised by 
the Jesuits against the sorcerers seemed increasing 
rather than otherwise, when one of their order, a 
pious and learned man, named Frederick Spee, a 
native of Cologne, raised his voice against its 
cruelty, by publishing, in the year 1631, a treatise 
on the subject, under the title of Cautio Criminalism 
in vhich he pointed out the necessity of taking 
with more caution the sort of evidence which it 
was usual to adduce against offenders of this class 


It was, as its author states in the title, '^ a book 
very necessary at that time for the magistracy 
throughout Grermany/' (liber ad magistratvs Oer- 
manioB hoc tempore necessarius^ and it no doubt 
had a great influence in putting a stop to the 
wholesale prosecutions which had become so pre- 




In the earlier ages of society, the practice of medi- 
cine, which consistedin a curing of wounds, was usually 
entrusted to the women. It was their business to 
gather the best herbs, and to know their several 
virtues. The remedies were often very simple, and 
required no great knowledge to prepare and apply 
them, and the professed healers, who themselves 
believed in the efficacy of charms and " characters," 
and imagined that the properties of different herbs 
were given to them by the spirits who presided 
over woods and fields, found an advantage at the 
same time in clothing their remedies in adven- 
titious mystery. To what an extent this was prac- 
tised will be fully understood by any one who is 
conversant with the collections of medicinal re- 
ceipts in mediaeval manuscripts. After the Roman 
civilization had introduced itself among the various 


branches of the Teutonic race, and schools of medi- 
cine were established, a new race of practitioners 
sprang up, superior to the others by their learning 
and theoretic knowledge, but still judging it con- 
venient to create a popular reverence for their art 
by clothing it in a similar garb of mystery. Thus 
medicine, in whatever circumstances it was found, 
was deeply intermixed with superstition. 

In process of time these two classes of medical 
practitioners became more and more widely sepa- 
rated from each other, the scholastic physicians 
rising in professional character, while the others 
went on degenerating until they became literally 
" old women doctors/' This vulgar medicinal know- 
ledge became at last united with sorcery in the per- 
son of the witch, as it had formerly been united 
with the religious worship of the people in the 
functions of the priestess. The latter received her 
knowledge by the inspiration of the gods ; the for- 
mer derived her knowledge of the virtues of herbs 
by the gift of the fairies or of the devil. Many of 
them added to these a profession of a far more hor- 
rible character. They were acquainted with herbs 
of which the properties were noxious, as well as 
with those which were beneficial, and they ac- 
quired at times an extraordinary skill in concocting 
poisons of different degrees of force, and which 
acted in different manners. The witches were the 
great poisoners of the middle ages, and their prac- 
tice was no doubt far more extensive than, even 
with what we have recently witnessed among our 
peasantry, we can easily imagine. 

Nearly all the Scottish witches of the first half 




of the seventeenth century were such vulgar practi- 
tioners in the healing art, and some of them at 
least were poisoners. Our materials are again 
furnished almost entirely by Robert Pitcaim, whose 
collection of early Scottish criminal trials is one of 
the most curious works of the kind that has ever 
been published. 

The first instance of an offender of this class in 
the seventeenth century that occurs in these re- 
gisters is that of James Reid of Musselburgh, who 
was brought to trial as a " common sorcerer, 
charmer, and abuser,'" on the 2Jst of July, 1602. 
James Reid professed to heal all kinds of diseases, 
" quhilk craft he lernit fra the devill, his maister, 
in Bynnie craigis and Corstorphin craigis, quhair he 
met with him and consultit with him to lerne the 
said craft ; quha (i. e. James Reid) gaif him thrie 
pennies at ane tyme, and a peice creische (grease) 
out of his bag at ane uther tyme/' The devil's 
terms, on this occasion, were not very exorbitant. 
This first interview took place some thirteen years 
before the time of his trial, and he had since that 
had frequent meetings with the evil one, who ap- 
peared sometimes in the form of a man, and some- 
times in that of a horse. His grand specific in 
efiecting his cures was water from a south-running 
stream. Among the crimes enumerated in his in- 
dictment were several " cures " performed, to use 
the words of the record, " in his devilish manner ;" 
but the most serious charge against him was a con- 
spiracy against the life of one David Libbertoun, a 
baker of Edinburgh. There was a feud between 
this man and the family of John Crystie, of Crys- 

K 5 

202 8OB0BKT AHB MAOia 

tiesoun's mjine, or mill, arising perhaps from some 
dishonest transactions between them^ for in form^ 
days the roguery of bakers and miUers was proTerbiaL 
Crystie's daughter Jonet,and some otherwomenof the 
family, applied to James Reid for revenge, and he 
held a consultation with the fiend for the purpose 
of bringing destruction on Libbertoun, his family, 
goods, and com. James's instructor made him take 
a piece of raw flesh, on which he made nine nicks 
or notches, and '' enchanted the same/' The flesh 
was giren to Jonet Crystie, one half to be laid 
under the door of Libbertoun's mill, and the other 
under the door of his stable ; the object of the 
latter being to bewitch his horses and cattle. Satah 
also enchanted nine stones, which were to be 
thrown on David Libbertoun's lands, to destroy his 
corn. They next made a " picture"' of wax, which 
the fiend also " enchanted ;" and this the women 
roasted at a fire in Crystie's house, to eflect the de- 
struction of Libbertoun himself The latter in due 
course died. 

In England they were contented with the cheaper 
and easier process of hanging the witches, but in 
Scotland, as in Germany, the good old system of 
burning was still persevered in, although they now 
generally put the victims to death by strangling, or 
some other means, before they were committed to 
the flames. This act of mercy was probably occa- 
sioned by the horrible scenes that burning alive 
continually gave rise to. We learn from the mi- 
nutes of the Scotch privy council, that, on the 1st 
of December, 1608, " the earl of Mar declared to 
the council that some women were taken in 


Broughton (the suburb of Edinburgh) as witches, 
and, being put to an assize, and convicted, albeit 
they persevered constant in their denial to the end, 
yet they were burnt quick, afker such a cruel man- 
ner, that some of them died in despair, renouncing 
and blaspheming ; and others, half-burnt, broke out 
of the fire, and were cast quick in it again, till they 
were burnt to death/' 

James Beid was wirreit, or strangled, and then 

We learn from these same registers, that a man 
named Patrick Lowrie, of Halie in Ayrshire, com- 
monly known by the name of Pat the witch, suf- 
fered the same fate in the July of the year 1605. 
This man had been in confederacy with several 
women witches, wid on the Whitsunday of 1604 
they had held a meeting with the evil one on the 
Sandhills in Kyle, near the burgh of Irvine. On 
Hallow-Eve, the same year, they assembled again 
on Lowdon-hill, where a spirit, in the likeness of a 
woman, who called herself Helen M'Brune, ap- 
peared to them, and after a long consultation, gave 
Patrick a hair-belt, " in one of the ends of which 
belt appeared the similitude of four fingers and a 
thumb, not far different from the claws of the 
devil." They afterwards visited the neighbouring 
chiu'ches and churchyards, to dig up the dead from 
their graves, and dismember them, " for the prac- 
tising of their witchcraft and sorcery.^' This man, 
like the former, injured some people, and performed 
cures for others ; he was charged especially with 
curing a child of " ane strange incureabM disease." 

The practices of Isobel Griersoune, the wife of a 


labourer at Preston-pans named John Bull, were 
still more extraordinary. She was tried on the 
10th of March, 1607, and it appeared that, having 
conceived a " cruel hatred and malice'' against one 
Adam Clark, of the same place, she used during Ja. 
year and a half " all devilish and ungodly means'' 
to be avenged upon him. One night, in the No- 
vember of 1606, between eleven o'clock and mid- 
night, when the whole family, consisting of Adam, 
his wife, and a woman servant, were asleep in their 
beds, she entered their house in the likeness of her 
own cat, accompanied with a great number of other 
cats, and made such an uproar that the inmates went 
nearly mad. Then, to increase the tumult, the 
devil, in the shape of a black man, made his appear- 
ance, and, in a fearful manner, seizing the servant 
as she stood in the middle of the floor, tore her cap 
from her head and threw it in the fire, and dragged 
her up and down the house with so much violence 
that she was obliged to keep her bed for six weeks 
after. Such scenes as this seldom occur in the 
stories of English witchery. Previous to this occur- 
rence, at the beginning of the year 1600, the same 
Isobel had taken offence against a man of the same 
town, named William Burnet. She threw a piece 
of raw " enchanted" flesh at his door, and he was 
immediately struck with a dreadful malady, and 
for the space of a year the demon haunted the 
house nightly, in the shape of a " naked infant 
bairn." In consequence of these and other similar 
persecutions, William Burnet languished three years 
and died. Another man refused to pay her the sum 
of nine shillings and fourpence, which he owed her, 


ahd he was seized with a grievous sickness, which 
never left him till the debt was discharged. An 
ale-house keeper afironted her, and all his ale be- 
came " thick like gutter dirt/' and smelt so bad 
that nobody would touch it. An innkeeper's wife 
gave her some cause of offence, and she went ''under 
silence and cloud of night," and, entering the house 
" after a devilish and unknown way," dragged her 
by the hair out of bed from the side of her husband, 
and threw her on the floor, " whereby her spirit 
failed her," and she continued in a helples3 state 
during five or six days. On this occasion, Isobel 
Griersoune was publicly accused of being the cause of 
the woman's sickness, and she therefore employed her 
neighbours to bring her and the innkeeper's wife to 
drink together, after which the latter recovered ; 
but she again called her a witch, whereupon Isobel, 
who appears to have possessed anything but a 
gentle temper, flew into a rage, and said to her, 
" The faggot of hell light on thee, and hell's caul- 
dron may thou seeth in !" Her weakness returned, 
and remained with her till the time of Isobel's trial. 
Isobel Griersoune was burnt on the Castle-hill at 
Edinburgh. In the December of the same year a 
man was burnt there for the same crime ; he was 
accused of poisoning people, as well as curing. 
Other similar cases occur in the following years, 
and no doubt many might be instanced from other 
parts of Scotland. 

On the 27th of May, 1608, a woman named Beigis 
Tod, of " Lang Nydrie," was tried for sorcery, and 
condemned to the stake. It was stated that in the 
August of 1594, she, with her sister and some 


others, met another party of witches at " Deane- 
fute of Lang Nydrie/' where the devil appeared to 
them, and reproved Beigis Tod " very sharply" for 
her long tarrying. She said, " Sir, I could win na 
sooner." They all passed together to Beigia's house 
in Lang Nydrie, where, after they had drunk toge- 
ther ^^ a certain space,"' they took a cat and drew it 
nine times through the " cruik,'' or iron on which 
the pot was hung over the fire ; and then they 
went with aU speed to Seatoun thorn, to the north 
of the gate. Thorns were always favourite meeir 
ing-places of witches and spirits. When they came 
to the thorn, the devil left them to fetch Cristiane 
Tod, a sister of Beigis, '^ and passed to Robert 
Smart's house, and brought her out; and as she 
was coming with him, she took a great fright, 
and said to the devil, ' Sir, what will you do with 
me f wbo answered her, * Tak na feir, for ye sail 
gang to your sister Beigis, and to the rest of hir 
cumpanie quha ar stayand upon your cuming 
at the thorn."' Then they all went with Satan 
to the iron gate of Seatoun, where they again took 
a cat, and drew it nine times through the iron gate. 
Immediately afterwards they went to a bam, where 
they christened the cat, and called her Margaret 
They then returned to Deane-fute, where they first 
met, and cast the cat to the evil one. We are not 
told the object of these strange proceedings. 

The year 1613 was rendered remarkable in the 
annals of Scottish sorcery by two very extraordinary 
cases, one of which belonged to high life. John 
Erskine, laird of Dun in the county of Angus, and 
grandson of the celebrated John Erskine who held 


the ofE^ce of superintendent of Anguis and Meames, 
and distinguished himself hj his exertions in sup-- 
port of the Reformation, had two sons, David, 
Vfho inherited the lordship, and Robert, and three 
daughters, Helen, Isobcjl, and Anne. David Ers- 
kine, the elder brother, died young, leaving two 
boys, John and Alexander, the former of whom 
was acknowledged as the young laird. Robert Ers- 
kine and his three sisters seem to have been more 
attached to one another than to their late brother ; 
the sisters especially seem tohave beenwicked women, 
and, now that only two children stood between him 
and the hereditary estates of the family, they urged 
their surviving brother to secure the lairdship and 
property by one of those bold bad actions which 
were so common in feudal times* It appears that 
a dispute had arisen relating to the wardship of the 
children, and that Robert Erskine was disappointed 
at not getting his nephews into his own ward. 
About the midsummer of 1610, a meeting between 
Robert and his three sisters took place in his man- 
sion of Logy, and it was resolved that the children, 
of whom one seems to ha-we been on a visit to Logy 
and the other was residing with his mother in 
Montrose, should be carried off by poison, which 
must be prepared and rendered effectual by witch- 
craft. Two of the sisters, who appear to have been 
the most active in this afiair, proposed to one 
David Blewhouse that he should find a witch and 
see the work done without their direct interference, 
and in return for this service he was to receive five 
hundred marks of silver and a piece of land. An 
agreement to this effect was drawn up, but for some 

208 SORGEBT Ain> MAGia 

reason or other it was subsequently broken off, and 
the two sisters, Anne and Helen, determined to 
take the matter in hand themselves. They accord- 
ingly set off together, and went over the Caime- 
mouth towards " Mure-ailhouse," to a notorious 
witch named Janet Irwing, from whom they re- 
ceived a "great quantity '' of herbs, with particular 
directions how to use them These they carried 
home to Logy, but Robert Erskine was not satisfied 
that they were sufficiently powerful for his purpose, 
and paid a visit in person to the witch, who took 
away all his scruples on this head. They now pro- 
ceeded to make the poisonous drink, according to 
the witch's directions, and everything being ready, 
Robert Erskine rode over to Montrose, taking the 
boy who was with him home to his brother and 
mother. There the drink was secretly adminis- 
tered, and the victims were suddenly plunged into 
dreadful sufferings, and exhibited every symptoms 
of being poisoned, till they both died, " and sa was 
crewallie and tressonabillie murthoret," to use the 
expressive words of the record. The murderers did 
not long enjoy the resuli of their crime ; how the 
discovery was made is not told, but it seems pro- 
bable that David Blewhouse turned traitor. On 
the 30th of November, 16 J 3, Robert Erskine was 
brought for examination before the Scottish privy 
council, and though he denied all knowledge of the 
murder at first, he ended by making a full confes- 
sion. The course of justice was quick at this time, 
and he was beheaded on the 1st of December at the 
" Mercat '' cross in Edinburgh. His sisters seem to 
have possessed stronger nerves, for in face of his 


confession, and the evidence of Blewhouse and 
other witnesses, they continued " obdurate in a con- 
stant denial"" They were not brought to a trial till 
the 22nd of June, 1614, but the evidence against 
them was so conclusive, that they were at once 
found guilty, and two of them were like their bro- 
ther beheaded at the Mercat-cross. The third ob- 
tained a respite from the king, who subsequently 
changed her punishment from death to perpetual 

The other Scottish tragedy of the year 1613 was, 
in some respects, of a more romantic character, and 
we only know it from a copy of the record of the 
trial sent to sir Walter Scott Two brothers, 
Archibald and John Dein, lived in the town of 
Irvine, of which they were burgesses ; the first had 
married a woman named Janet Lyal, while the wife 
of Alexander was Margaret Barclay. It appears 
that there was a quarrel between the two families, 
and John Dein and his wife publicly accused Mar- 
garet Barclay of theft. Margaret Barclay raised an 
action of slander before the church court, which 
was discharged, and the opponents were directed to 
be reconciled. But Margaret did not possess a con- 
ciliating temper, and she declared that she only 
gave her hand in obedience to the kirk-session, but 
that her animosity against John Dein and his 
spouse was unabated. Soon after this occurrence, 
John Dein's ship prepared to smI for France, and 
he took with him the provost of the burgh of 
Irvine, Andrew Tran, who was one of the owners 
of the vessel. As they were starting, Margaret 
Barclay was heard to pray that sea nor salt 


water might never bear the ship, and that partan^, 
or crabs, might eat the crew at the bottom of the 
sea. The first news of the ship which reached 
Irvine came by a wandering juggler named John 
Stewart, who called at the house of the provost, 
and dropped broad hints that he knew by some 
mysterious means that the vessel was lost, and that 
the provost himself had perished. After a short 
period of anxiety in the provost's family, all doubt 
was removed hj the arrival of two of the crew, who 
stated that their ship had been wrecked on the 
coast of England near Padstow, and that they 
were the sole survivors of all who who were on 
board. People remembered Margaret Barclay's im- 
precations, and suspicions of sorcery were imme- 
diately excited against her and John Stewart, whose 
knowledge of the state of the ship seemed so ex- 

Margaret Barclay appears to have been no fa- 
vourite in the town of Irvine, and proceedings were 
commenced in a way most likely to turn to her 
confusion. The wandering juggler was first ar- 
rested, and fear or torture wrung from him a confess 
sion, in which he cleared himself by seriously com- 
promising the other person suspected. He said that 
Margaret Barclay, presuming perhaps on his cha- 
racter of a juggler, had applied to him to teach her 
some magic arts, "in order that she might get 
gear, kyes milk, love of man, her heart's desire on 
such persons as had done her wrong, and finally 
that she might obtain the fruit of sea and land." 
He replied that he neither possessed such arts, nor 
was able to communicate them to others, and thus 


the matter ended. But he said that subsequent to 
this, and shortly after the ship set sail, he came 
accidentally one night to Margaret's house, and 
there he found her with two other women making 
clay figures, one of which was made handsome and 
with fair hair, he supposed to represent provost 
Tran. They proceeded to make a figure of a 
ship in clay, and while they were thus occupied, 
the devil appeared in the shape of a handsome 
black lap-dog. When the ship was made, the 
whole party, Satan and all, left the house together, 
and went into an empty waste-house near the sea- 
port. They afterwards proceeded to the sea-side, 
and cast in the figures of clay representing the ship 
and the men, and immediately the sea raged, 
roared, and became red like the juice of madder in 
a dyer's cauldron. Margaret Barclay's female ac^ 
quaintances were next convened, and when John 
Steward was introduced to them, he at once fixed 
upon an old woman named Insh, as one of the per- 
sons engaged in making the figures. This woman 
stoutly denied all knowledge of the matter, and 
said she never saw her accuser before ; but the 
magistrates now brought forward her own daughter, 
a girl only eight years old, who lived in Margaret 
Barclay's house as a servant, and who had been 
made by some means or other to declare that she 
had been a witness to the scene described by the 
juggler, and that her mother was one of the persons 
engaged in it. This little girl improved upon the 
details given by Stewart ; she described other per- 
sons as being present, added a black man to the 
black dog, and said that the latter breathed flames 


from its jaws and nostrils, which illuminated the 
witches during the performance of the spelL She 
said that they had promised her a pair of new shoea 
to keep the secret, and that h€r mother Isobel Insh 
remained in the waste-house, and was not present 
when the images were thrown into the sea. 

John Stewart now underwent a new examina- 
tion, and added to his own story so as to make it 
agree with that of the child. When asked how he 
gained the knowledge of things to come, he told a 
strange story of his adventures with the fairies; it was 
probably a tale he had been accustomed to recount 
among the people where he visited in the exercise 
of his craft to give himself importance in their eyes, 
and which he now half unconsciously repeated be- 
fore his judges. He stated that about twenty-six 
years before, as he was travelling on the night of 
AU-hallow's Eve, between the towns of " Monygoif " 
and " Clary,'" in the county of Galway, (in Ireland,) 
he met with the king of the fairies and his com* 
pany, and the king struck him over the forehead 
with a white rod, which deprived him of the power 
of speech and the use of one eye. After remaining 
in this condition during three years, his speech and 
eye-sight were restored to him by the king of the 
fairies and his company, whom he again met on a 
Hallowe'en night near Dublin, since which time he 
had been in the habit of joining these people every 
Saturday at seven o'clock in the evening, and re- 
maining with them all that night They likewise 
met every Hallowtide, sometimes on Lanark-hill, 
or, as Scott supposes, Tintock, and sometimes on 
Eilmaurs-hill, when he was taught by them. 




Stewart pointed out the spot on his forehead where 
the king of the fairies struck him with a white 
rod, whereupon, after he had been blindfolded by 
order of the magistrates and ministers who were 
directing the examination, they pricked the spot 
with a large pin, of which he appeared to be quite 
insensible. He repeated the names of many per- 
sons whom he had seen at the court of faerie, and 
declared that all persons who were taken away by 
sudden death went thither. 

After these confessions, Isobel Insh was more 
hardly pressed to " tell the truth,'" and at length 
she confessed that she was present at the making 
and drowning of the clay images, but declared that 
she took no part in the proceedings. She was at 
this moment in such a state of mind, that she evi- 
dently knew not what she was doing, and she sup- 
plicated her jailor. Bailie Dunlop, to let her go, pro- 
mising him, for he also was a mariner, that if he 
did so, he should never make a bad voyage, but 
have success in all his dealings by sea and land, a 
promise that was easily construed into an acknow- 
ledgment that she possessed the powers attributed 
to her. Before she was conducted back to her pri- 
son in the belfry, she was made to promise that 
she would fully confess next day, but in the 
night she made a desperate attempt at escape. 
Although secured with iron bolts, locks, and fet- 
ters, she succeeded in getting out at a back window, 
and reached the roof of the church, for here she 
lost her footing and fell to the ground. She was so 
much hurt and bruised, that she survived but five 
days, during which time she resolutely persisted in 



asserting her innocence, and denied all that she had 
before admitted In spite of the evident causes 
of her death, the inhabitants of Irrine attributed 
it to poison. 

A commission was now granted for the trial of 
John Stewart and Margaret Barclay, and when the 
appointed day arrived, " my lord and earl of Eglin- 
toune (who dwells within the space of one mile to 
the said burgh) having come to the said burgh at 
the earnest request of the said justices, for giving 
to them of his lordshq)'s countenance, concurrence, 
and assistance, in trying of the foresaid devilish 
practices, conformable to the tenor of theforesaidcom- 
mission, the said John Stewart, for his better pre- 
serving to the day of assize, was put in a sure lock- 
fast booth, where no manner of person might have 
access to >him till the down-sitting of the justice- 
court ; and for avoiding of putting hands on him- 
self, he was very strictly guarded, and fettered by 
the arms, as use is. And upon that same day of 
the assize, about half an hour before the down- 
sitting of the justice-court, Mr. David Dickson, 
minister at Irvine, and Mr. George Dunbar, mi- 
nister of Ayr, haviivg gone to him to exhort him to 
call on his God for mercy for his bygone wicked 
and evil life, and that God would of his infinite 
mercy loose him out of the bonds of the devil, 
whom he had served these. many years bygone, he 
acquiesced in their prayer and godly exhortation, 
and uttered these words, — ' I am so straitly 
guarded, that it lies not in my power to get my 
hand to take off my bonnet, nor to get bread to my 
mouth.' .And immediately after the departure of 


the two ministers from him, the juggler being sent 
for, at the desire of my lord of Eglintoune, to be 
Qcmfronted with a woman of the burgh of Ayr 
called Janet Bous, who was apprehended by the 
'magistrates of the burgh of Ayr for witchcraft, and 
sent to the burgh of Irvine purposely for that affair, 
he was found, by the burgh officers who went about 
him, strangled and hanged by the cruik of the 
door, with a tait^ or string, of hemp, supposed 
to have been his garter or string of his bon- 
net, not above the length of two span long, his 
knees not being from the ground half a span, 
and was brought out of the house, his life not being 
totally expelled. But, notwithstanding of wbatso- 
ever means tised in the contrary for remeid of his 
life, he revived not, but so ended his life miserably, 
by the help of the devil his master/' 

Margaret Barclay was the only one who now 
remained for trial, and it was determined to proceed 
with her at once, lest she should follow the example 
of the othera " Therefore, and for eschewing of the 
like in the person of the said Margaret, our sove- 
reign lord's justice in that part, constituted by 
commission, after solemn deliberation and advice of 
the said noble lord, whose concurrence and advice 
was chiefly required and taken in this matter, con- 
dluded with all possible diligence, before the down- 
sitting of the justice court, to put the said Margaret 
to torture ; in respect the devil, by God's permission, 
had made her associates, who were the lights of the 
cause, to be their own * burrioes' (ecoecvMoners). 
They used the torture underwritten as being most 
safe and gentle (as the said noble lord assured the 


said justices,) hj putting of her two bare legs in a 
pair of stocks, and thereafter by on-laying of certain 
iron gauds (bars) severally one by one, and then 
eking and augmenting the weight by laying on 
nlore gauds, and in easing of her by off-taking of the 
iron gauds one or more as occasion offered, which 
iron gauds were but little short gauds, and broke 
not the skin of her legs After using of the which 
kind of gentle torture, the said Margaret began, ac- 
cording to the increase of the pain, to cry and crave 
for God's cause to take off her shins the foresaid 
irons, and she would declare truly the whole matter. 
Which being removed, she began at her former de- 
nial; and being of new arrayed in torture as of before, 
she then uttered these words, ' Take off ! take off ! 
and before Grod I shall show you the whole form !' 
And the said irons being of new, upon her faithful 
promise, removed, she then desired my lord of Eglin- 
toune, the said four justices, and the said Mr. David 
Dickson, minister at the burgh, Mr. George Dunbar, 
minister of Ayr, and Mr. Mitchell Wallace, minister 
of Kilmarnock, and Mr. John Cunninghame, minister 
of Dairy, and Hugh Kennedy, provost of Ayr, to 
come by themselves, and to remove all others, and 
she should declare truly as she should answer to 
God the whole matter. Whose desire in that being 
fulfilled, without any kind of demand, freely, with- 
out interrogation, God's name by earnest prayer 
being called upon for opening of her lips, and easing 
of her heart, that she by rendering of the truth, 
might glorify and magnify his holy name, and dis- 
appoint the enemy of her salvation/' 
Margaret Barclay's confession was a mere ac.- 


-knowledgment of the truth of what had been said by 
the others, but she declared that her purpose was to 
kill none but her brother-in-law and provost Tran. 
To make up the number of persons pretended to have 
been present at the making of the images, she intro- 
duced the name of another woman of Irvine, Isobel 
Crawford ; who was thereupon arrested, and in great 
terror confessed it alL But when they proceeded 
with the trial, Alexander Dein, the husband of Mar- 
garet Barclay, appeared in court with a lawyer to 
act in her defence, and she was asked by the lawyer 
if she wished to be defended, to which she made 
answer, " As you please ; but all I have confessed 
was in agony of torture, and, before God, all I have 
spoken is false and untrue ;'' adding pathetically, 
" Ye have been too long in coming/' The jury were 
unmoved by this appeal ; it was considered that as 
the iron bars were off her legs at the moment of her 
making the confession, it could not be said to be made 
under compulsion, and she was unanimously found 
guilty. After her sentence was passed, she returned 
to her confession, influenced, perhaps, by the hope in 
some way or other of better treatment. She was 
strangled at the stake, and then burnt to ashes. 

Before her death, Margaret Barclay had entreated 
earnestly for Isobel Crawford, the woman implicated 
in her confession, that no injury should be done to 
her, but in vain. A new commission was obtained 
for her trial, and, as she was now obstinate in her 
denial, the same torture was applied to her, and 
with the same effect She made a new confession, 
acknowledged everything that was imputed to her, 
and avowed that she had lived in intercourse with 



the evil one for several years. But when her sen- 
tence was passed; she again denied all that she had 
confessed, and persisted in her denial to the last 

It appears to have been a mere quarrel among the 
wives of the burghers of Irvine which led to this 
tragical conclusion. The singularly detailed report 
of the proceedings of the trial, which was published 
by sir Walter Scott, furnishes a most remarkable 
illustration of the manner in which they were con- 
ducted. We now return to the registers published 
by Mr. Pitcaim for a few examples illustrative of 
the character of the Scottish witches of this period 
They show us not only how generally these " weird'' 
women were employed to cure diseases, but the par- 
ticular character of their remedies. 

Margaret Wallace, the wife of a burgess of Glas- 
gow, was tried for sorcery on the 20th of March, 
1622. The particular crime for which she was 
brought into court was the bewitching of a burgess 
of the same town named Cuthbert Greg, a cooper, 
who had excited her " deadly hatred,'" by publicly 
calling her a witch. It was deposed that she had 
been heard to threaten that she would make him 
within a few days unable to earn a cake of bread by 
his work. Shortly after this, he feU into sickness 
and extreme debility. His Mends were convinced 
that Margaret Wallace was the cause of this visita- 
tion, and they went to her to beg her to restore him 
to his health. After many " malicious refusals," 
she yielded to their request, and went with them to 
his house, where she "took him by the shakel 
{tvrist bone) with one hand, and laid the other hand 
upon his breast, and without one word speaking, 



SRPVnsa^iHHVlP.. - ■■ JLJLs^- ■_! ! ".^l—^-rsaBIPSSSBSS^WHH^HSSJ 


save only by moving of her lips, passed from him at 
that instant ; and upon the morn thereafter, return- 
ing back again to the said Cuthbert, she took him 
by the arm and bade him arise, who at that time 
and fifteen days before was not able to lift his legs 
without help ; yet she, having urged him to rise, 
and taking him by the hand, as said is, brought 
him out of his bed, and thereafter led him about the 
house ; who immediately thereafter, by her sorcery 
and charming practised upon him, walked up and 
down the floor, without help or support of any ; and 
from that time quickly recovered and convalesced of 
the former grievous disease/' 

Margaret Wallace had formerly been intimate 
with a woman of Glasgow named Cristiane Grahame, 
who was burnt three years before as a notorious 
witch, and they seem to have been in the habit of 
assisting one another. On one occasion, when the 
child of one of her neighbours was taken ill, 
she recommended Grahame to be sent for, and, 
on an objection being made, she protested 
" Cristiane Grahame could do as mickle in that 
errand in curing of that disease, as if God himself 
would come out of heaven and cure her ; and albeit 
the death-stroke were laid on, she could take it off 
again; and without her help there could be no 
remedy to the bairn.'' She further showed her con- 
fidence in the healing powers of this woman by 
sending for her when she was in want herself A 
woman made the following deposition. It appeared 
that a man named Robert Stewart went with Mar- 
garet Wallace to an inn in Glasgow kept by one 
Alexander Vallange, where this deponent was 

L 2 


servant, and, as she said, they there " called for a 
choppine of ale, which was brought by a boy to 
them, named James Symsone ; and in drinking 
thereof, betwixt Robert Stewart his taking the cup 
and offering it to Margaret Wallace, the said Mar- 
garet took a sudden ' brasche' of sickness, unknown 
to the deponent what sickness it was, wherein the 
said Margaret was so extremely handled that she 
was likely to rive herself In her convulsions she 
cried, " Bring me hither my dear bird I" Margaret 
Montgomerie, the "good- wife'' of the house, who 
was present, and who imagined that she was calling 
for her husband, said, " What dear bird would you 
have ? I believe he is not at home/' " Na," an- 
swered Margaret Wallace, " bring me Cristiane 
Grahame, my dear bird !" " All this while Mar- 
garet Montgomerie was holding her by the one hand, 
and Cristiane M'Clauchlane by the other. There- 
after, at her desire, Robert Stewart past, and with 
great diligence brought Cristiane Grahame to her, 
at whose sudden coming Margaret Montgomerie 
said to Robert Stewart, ' Jesus save us ! I believe 
thou has met her by the way !' And Cristiane 
Grahame answered, ^ Faith, he met me not ; but 
came and brought me out of my own chamber ; and 
fra I heard that my bird was sa diseased, I sped 
me hither.' Says, thereafter, that Cristiane Gra- 
hame took Margaret Wallace by the shackel bone, 
and kist her ; and in her arms carried her down the 
stairs, saying to her, nothing should ail her." Ano- 
ther witness, a " chirurgeon," named Andro Mure, 
who deposed relating to the cure of one Margaret 
Mure, reveals a little glimpse of Scottish character. 



This man said, " He knows nothing of Margaret 
Mnre's sickness, except that he himself coming 
down the bridge-gate, he saw Cristiane Grahame 
come forth of Marioun Mure's house ; who thereafter 
came to the deponent, and desired him to gang in 
to the said Marioun; and the deponent, at 
her desire, having passed into the house, at his in- 
coming a roasted hen was set down on the board ; 
and the deponent, with David Scheirar and the said 
Marioun Mure, sat down at the the board together ; 
and within a short space thereafter, Margaret Wal- 
lace came in to them ; declares, at Margaret Wal- 
lace's incoming, a goose was set down on the board ; 
and the deponent, perceiving that such entertain- 
ment would draw him to charges, he paid his chop- 
pine of wine and came his way, and left the rest of 
the company behind him ; and further he knows 

Some pains seem to have been taken in this 
woman's defence, and the worst accusation against 
her appears to have been her acquaintance with 
Cristiane Grahame; but the jury brought her in 
guilty, and she was strangled and burnt 

In the May of 1 623, a woman named Isobel Hal- 
dane made a " voluntary" confession at the sessions 
kt Perth, in which she described the manner in 
which she cured diseases, chiefly by the use of 
crosses and charms such as Tthose found in the old 
medical manuscripts. Being asked if she had any 
conversation with the fairy folk, she said that ten 
years before , while she was lying in her bed, 
she was taken forth she knew not how, and was 
carried to a hill side, which opened, and she went 


in and remained there three days, from Thureday to 
Sunday at noon. She met a man with a grey 
beard, who brought her forth again. This man 
with the grey beard, resembling the Thome Reid of 
a former story, was the person from whom she re- 
ceived her knowledge of hidden things, and who im- 
parted to her the art by which she worked her cures. 
She often delivered people from the witchcraft of 
others. One Patrick Ruthven acknowledged that 
he had been bewitched, and that Isobel had cured 
him. " She came into the bed, and stretched herself 
above him, her head to his head, her hands over him, 
and so forth, mumbling some words, he knew not 
what they were.'^ Isobel seems to have been famous 
for curing " bairns.'' She confessed that, for this 
purpose, she made three several cakes, every one of 
them of nine handfuls of meal obtained from nine 
women that were married maidens, and that she 
made a hole in the crown of every on^ of them, and 
put a bairn through it three times, in the name of 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost'' 

A man named Thomas Greave was burnt at the 
beginning of August, 1623. He was accused of 
causing sickness in some people, and curing it in 
others. His cures were performed with crosses and 
signs, and by washing the patient's sark, or shirt, 
in the water of a south-running stream, or with 
water from the holy well. He sometimes passed his 
patients through a hasp of yam. He took one wo- 
man's sickness from her, and put it on a cow. 
"Item, about Martinmas, 1621, Elspeth Thomesone, 
sister to John Thomesone, portioner of Petwar, 
being visited with a grievous sickness, the said Thomas 

^_ 1 TiM 11.1' M 


came to her house in Corachie, where, after sighing 
and ' gripping' of her, he promised to cure her 
thereof; and for this effect called for her sark, and 
desired two of her * nearest friends' to go with him, 
like as John and "William Thomesone, her brothers, 
being sent for, past with the said Thomas, in the night 
season, from Corachie towards Burley, by the space 
of twelve miles, and enjoyned the two brothers not 
to speak a word all the way ; and whatever they 
heard or saw, no ways to be afraid, saying to them, 
it might be that they would hear great rumbling, and 
such imcouth and fearful apparitions, but nothing 
should annoy them. And at the ford by East 
Burley, in a south-running water, he there washed 
the sark ; during the time of the which washing of 
the sark, there was a great noise made by fowls, or 
the ' lyll beasts,' that arose and flittered in the 
water. And coming home with the sark, put the 
same upon her, and cured her of her sickness." 

As I have before intimated, there may be some 
affinity between this process and the modern cure by 
wet sheets ; in the instance of Thomas Grreave the 
cold-water cure was punished with death. 




The extraordinary cases related in the last chap- 
ter give us but a faint notion of the immense num- 
ber of prosecutions for the crime of sorcery which 
occurred in Scotland during the first half of the 
seventeenth century. The cases which came before 
the high court of justiciary were few indeed when 
compared with those which were disposed of no less 
summarily in the multitude of inferior courts 
throughout that kingdom. The superstitious feelings 
of the Scottish clergy assisted the popular imagina- 
tion, and it is not surprising if the persecution 
against this miserable class of people was increased, 
rather than otherwise, when the presbyterians were 
in power. Matthew Hopkins had his reflection in 
a number of Scottish witch-finders, or, as they were 
called, prickers, who gained their living by going 
from town to town to search suspected women or 
men for their marks, and we have even seen that 




on the eve of the restoration they were sent for from 
Scotland to assist in witch prosecutions in the north 
of England. At this period, and in the years im- 
mediately following the accession of Charles IL, the 
mania seems to have suddenly extended itself in Scot- 
land, and the year 1661 was especially remarkable 
for the number of trials it witnessed. We are in- 
formed that on the 7th of November, in the year 
just mentioned, at one session of the superior court, 
no less than fourteen commissions were issued for 
trying witches in different parts of the country. A 
case which occurred in the spring of the year fol- 
lowing, is deserving of particular notice for its pecu- 

The district about the village of Auldearn, on 
the coast of the little county of Nairn, contained at 
this time so many witches, that Satan was obliged 
for convenience to divide them into companies 
named covines, each covine consisting of thirteen 
persons. This number was anciently called the 
devil's dozen, from which we understand why still, 
wherever the popular superstitions leave their 
traces, it is looked upon as an unlucky number for 
a party at table, but another more useful indi- 
vidual has since taken the place of the evil one in 
the name applied to it. To one of these covines, 
which seems to have belonged especially to the 
village of Auldearn, belonged a woman of that 
place named Isobel Growdie, who during the months 
of April and May, in the year 1662, made, without 
compulsion of any kind, (as it is said in the docu- 
ment,) before the clergy and magistrates of the dis- 
trict, four several confessions, all agreeing together, 

L 5 


though some of them were rather fiiller in detail 
than others. 

Isobel Gowdie said that once as she was going 
between the farms of Dramdevin and the Heads, 
she was accosted by Satan, who made her promise 
to meet him at night For some reason or other, 
in Scotland Satan preferred churches for the place 
of meeting of the witches, and on this occasion the 
rendezvous was to be in the kirk of Auldearn. 
Thither Isobel went on the night appointed, and 
she found a number of individuals who were well 
known to her in the kirk ; the evil one stood in 
the reader's desk, and held a black book in his 
hand. After being duly introduced to the com- 
pany, the new convert was made to deny her bap- 
tism, and then, placing one hand on the crown of 
her head and the other under the sole of her foot, 
she gave everything between them to the fiend. 
Margaret Brodie, of Auldearn, acted as her foster- 
mother, and held her up to the devil to be bap- 
tized. He marked her on the shoulder, and sucked 
the blood, which "spouted'" into his hand, and 
with this he sprinkled her on the head, re-baptizing 
her in his own name by the nickname of Janet. 
After this ceremony, the whole party separated. 
Shortly afterwards the devil met Isobel again, 
alone, at the " Now Wards " of Inshoch, and there 
the bond between them was completed. She de- 
scribed her new lord as a " mickle, black, rough 
man,'' with forked and cloven feet, which he some- 
times concealed by wearing boots or shoes. Some- 
times he appeared in the shape of a deer, or roe, or 
other animal 


To each covine was one female of more consider- 
ation than the others, Satan's favourite, who was 
chosen as the best looking of the younger witches, 
and she was called the maiden of the covine ; and 
there was a man, who was their officer. The 
witches had only power to do injuries of an infe- 
rior kind when the maiden was not with them. 
They met from time to time to dance at places 
which seem to have been under fairy influence, 
such as the hill of Earlseat, the mickle bum, and 
the Downie hills, generally one or two covines at a 
time, where they danced; but they had larger general 
meetings towards the end of each quarter of a year. 
Jane Martin, a young lass of Auldearn, was the 
maiden of the covine to which Isobel Gowdie be- 
longed. We have seen that in her intercourse 
mth the evU one, each witch was known by a new 
name. Thus Jane Martin was named " Over-the- 
dyke-with-it,'' because she used to sing these words 
when she was dancing with the deviL Her mother, 
Isobel Nicoll, went by the name of Bessie Rule ; 
Margaret Wilson was named Pickle-nearest-the- 
wind ; Bessie Wilson's name was Through-the-com- 
yard ; Elspet Nishie was named Bessie BaiQd ; and 
Bessie Hay rejoiced in the name of Able-and-stout 
Their familiar spirits, who were distinguished by 
the colour of their liveries, had names equally sin- 
gular. Isobel Growdie's own familiar was called 
Saunders-the-red-reaver, and was clothed in black ; 
one of them had a spirit called Thomas-a-fairie ; 
Margaret Wilson's spirit had a grass-green dress, 
and was called Swein ; Bessie Wilson's spirit was 
Rorie, dressed in yellow ; that of Isobel Nicoll was 


Roaring-lion, and his colour sea-green ; that of 
Margaret Brodie was called Robert-the-rule, and 
dressed in a sad dress ; Bessie Wilson's familiar had 
the strange name of Thief-of-hell-wait-upon-her ; 
Elspet Nishie's was Hendrie Laing ; the familiar of 
Bessie Hay (old Able-and-stout) was named Robert- 
the-Jakis, and was always ^'clothed in dun, and 
seems aged ; he is ane glaiked gowked spirit/' Jane 
Martin, the maiden of the covine, had a spirit 
named M'Hector, who was a "young-like'' devil, 
and his colour grass-green. These spirits were 
much smaller than the devil who presided at their 
meetings. . 

Isobel said that they sometimes went into the 
Downie hills, where they found a fair and large 
" brawe " room, where it was daylight There she 
got meat from the queen of faerie more than she 
could eat The queen was " brawlie " clothed in 
white linen, and in white and brown clothes. The 
king of faerie was a " brawe " man, well favoured, 
and broad faced. " There," says Isobel, " was elf- 
bulls rowtting and skoylling up and down, and 
affrighted me." She alluded repeatedly to the fear 
which she always felt on seeing these elf-buUs. In 
the caverns of the Downie hills, Isobel Gowdie 
saw the "elf-boys" making the elf-arrowheads. 
These elf-boys were " little ones, hollow and boss- 
backed, (humpbacked;) they spoke gowstie-like." 
The devil shaped the arrow-heads with his own 
hand, and gave them to the elf-boys, who sharp- 
ened and " dighted " them with a sharp thing like 
a packing-needle. When they were finished, the 
devil delivered them to the witches, saying, — 


Shoot these in my name. 

And they shall not go heal hame {whole home). 

And when the witch shot at anybody with them, 
she said, — 

I shoot yon man in the deyil*s name, 

He shall not win heal hame ! 

And this shall be all so true, 

There shall not be one bit of him on liew I (aUve) 

When they shot the arrow-heads at their victims, 
they " spang " them from their thumb-nails ; some- 
times they missed their object, but if they touched 
they carried certain death, even if the victim were 
cased in armour. 

The account of what passed at the sabbaths of 
th,ese Scottish witches is very imperfect, and the 
little that is told will be better passed over. The 
arch-fiend seems to have taken great deUght in 
beating his subjects cruelly with ropes and thongs, 
and he resented bitterly any act of disrespect. 
" Sometimes among ourselves,,'' says Isobel Gowdie, 
" we would be calling him Black John, or the like, 
and he would ken it, and hear us well enough ; 
and he even then come to us and say, ' I ken wele 
eneugh what ye were saying of me ' And then he 
would beat and buffet us very sore.'' They were 
often beaten for absence from the meetings, or for 
neglect when present ; some bore their punishment 
quietly, but others would resist, and there were 
some beldames in the company who did not hesi- 
tate to exchange blows with Satan. Alexander 
Elder, of Earlseat, was often beaten ; " he is but 


soft, and could never defend himself in the least, 
but 'greit' (lament) and cry when he would be 
scourging him ; Margaret Wilson would defend her- 
self finely, and cast up her hands to keep the 
strokes off her; and Bessie Wilson would speak 
crusty with her tongue, and would be belling again 
to him stoutly/' On the whole, Satan appears to 
have been but an ill master, for he was easily of- 
fended, and " when he would be angry at us, he 
would grin at us Uke a dog, as if he would swaUow 
us up." However, as a peace-offering at the end of 
the meeting, he sometimes gave them the '^ brawest 
like money that ever was coined," but if they had 
the misfortune to keep it more than twenty-four 
hours in their possession, they found it was nothing 
but horse-dung ! 

Isobel Gowdie stated that when they went to the 
meetings, they took a straw or a bean-stalk, placed 
it between their feet, and said, — 

Horse and hattock, horse and gOy 
Horse and pellattis, ho ! ho ! 

Then they were immediately carried into the air, 
" as straws would fly upon a highway." If it were 
at night, and the witch were afraid that her hus- 
band might miss her from his bed, she took a 
besom or three-legged stool, placed it beside him in 
bed, and said thrice,— 

I lay down this hesom (or stool) in the devil's name, 
Let it not stir tiU I come again, 


and immediately it seems a woman beside our 


p *• • 




husbands/' They often travelled in this way by 
day, and then it was that they amused themselyea 
by shooting people with the elf-arrowheads ; and 
people who see straws flying about the air in a 
whirlwind on a fine day, are recommendedto bless 
themselves devoutly, because if they omit that pre- 
caution they are liable to be shot by the witches 
who ride on them. " Any that are shot by us," 
Isobel informs us, " their souls will go to heaven, 
but their bodies remain with us, and will fly as 
horses to us, as small as straws/' Isobel Gowdie 
confessed to having killed many people in this 
manner. The first time she went to her covine was 
to Ploughlands, where she shot a man between the 
" plough- stilts,'' and he presently fell on his face to 
the ground. The devil gave her an arrow to shoot 
at a woman in the fields, which she did, and the 
victim dropped down dead. As they were riding 
one day, Isobel by the side of Satan, and Margaret 
Brodie and Bessie Hay in close company with 
them, they met Mr. Harry Forbes, the minister of 
Auldearn, going to Moynes, on which the devil gave 
Margaret Brodie an arrow to shoot at him. Mar- 
garet shot and missed her mark, and the arrow was 
taken up again by Satan ; but when she offered to 
shoot again he said, " No, we cannot have his life 
this time." Presently afterwards they saw the laird 
of Park, and the devil gave Isobel an arrow. She 
shot at him as he was crossing a burn, and, perhaps 
owing to this circumstance, missed him, for which 
Bessie Hay gave her " a great cuff"." 

The witches seem to have entertained an espe- 
cial hostility towards these two gentlemen. In the 


winter of J 660, Mr. Forbes was sick, it appears, in 
consequence of a conspiracy of these enemies. 
They made a mixture of the galls, flesh, and en- 
trails of toads, grains of barley, parings of finger 
and toe nails, the liver of a hare, and " bits of clouts." 
These ingredients were mixed together and seethed, 
or boiled, all night in water. Satan was with them 
during this process, and they repeated after him, 
thrice each time, the words — 

He is lying in his bed, be is lying sick and sair, 

Let bim lie intill bis bed two months and tbree days mair. 

And then — 

Let bim lie in bis bed, let bim lie intill it sick and sair, 
Let bim lie intill bis bed two montbs and tbree days mair. 

And then finally — 

He sball lie in bis bed, be sball lie sick and sair, 

He shall lie intill bis bed two montbs and three days mair. 

At night they went into Forbes's chamber to swing 
this mixture over him as he lay sick in bed, but 
for some reason or other they were not able to do 
it. They now chose one of their covine who was 
most intimate and familiar with the minister, 
which happened to be Bessie Hay, who, as they 
could not injure him by night, was to visit him by 
day, and swing the noxious mixture over him ; but 
she failed, because there were some other " worthy 
persons'' with him at the time, though she " swung'' 
a little of the mixture on the bed where he lay. 



Mr. Harry Forbes appears to have received no 
serious injury from the witches, as he was one of 
those who sat in court to hear Isobel's confession. 
The laird of Park was less fortunate in his family, if 
he escaped in his person. A meeting was held at 
the house of John Taylor of Auldearn, at which the 
devil was present with Isobel Gowdie, John Taylor 
and his wife, and one or two others, for the purpose 
of making a picture of clay, to destroy the laird of 
Park's male children. John Taylor brought home 
the clay in "his plaidnewk" (a corner of his plaid), 
and they broke it into fine powder, and passed it 
through a sieve. Then they poured water on it to 
make a paste, and " wrought it very sore like rye- 
bowt'' As they threw the water in, they said, in 
the devil's name, — 

We pour in this water among this meal, 

For lang dwining {languishing) and ill heal; 

We put it into the fire, 

That it may he humt with stick and btowre, 

It shall he humt, with our will, 

As any stickle (stubble) upon a hill. 

" The devil,'' says Isobel, " taught us these words, 
and when we had learnt them, we all fell down 
upon our bare knees, and our hair about our eyes, 
and our hands lifted up, looking stedfastly upon 
the devil, still saying the words thrice over, till it 
was made." They moulded the paste into the figure 
of a male chUd, having aU its members complete, 
and its hands folded down by its sides ; and they 
laid it with the face to the fire till it was almost 
dry, then in the devil's name they put it in the fire. 


and let it remain till it was red like a coal, when it 
was drawn out with the same ceremony. This 
image was entrusted to the care of John Taylor and 
his wife ; it was kept wrapped up in a " clout/' in 
a cradle of clay, and hung up in a " knag " in their 
house. As often as they wanted to kill a male 
child of the laird of Park, they took it down, wet 
it, and roasted it every other day till the child died, 
and then put it away again ; and as soon as another 
male child was bom to him, they let it live six 
months, and then destroyed it by the same process. 
We are told in the confession that " till it be 
broken, it will be the death of all the male children 
that the laird of Park will ever get Cast it over a 
kirk it will not break, till it be broken with an axe, 
or some such like thing, by a man's hand If it be 
not broken, it will last a hundred years.'' This 
seems to be a remnant of the early belief which led 
the Teutonic invaders to destroy the Roman sta- 
tuary ; we continually find, on Roman sites, bronzes 
that have been intentionally mutilated with an axe, 
or some other sharp instrument. 

These Scottish witches appear to have h^ no 
eating and drinking at their Sabbaths, but they 
went for this purpose into the houses of the lairds 
and gentlemen round about, to feast by night on 
the provisions which were always found there in 
plenty. They went thus into the house of the earl 
of Murray himself On the Candlemas before this 
confession was made, they visited Grrangehill, the 
house of Brodie of Lethin, where they got " meat 
and drink enough." On these occasions the devil 
always sat at the head of the table, and the maiden 



of the covine sat next to him, and was served first 
and best. The grace they said before meat was as 
follows : — 

We eat this meat in the devil's name, 

With sorrow, and ** sych," (sighing) and mickle shame; 

We shall destroy house and hold, 

Both sheep and neat intill the fold. 

Little good shall come to the fore 

Of all the rest of the little store. 

In these excursions the witches did not always 
go in their own semblances, for they had the power 
of transforming themselves into the shape of any 
animals except lambs or doves, which, as emblems 
of innocence, they might not assume. Isobel 
Gpwdie describes minutely the process of transfor- 
mation. When the witch would change herself into 
a hare, the form that appears to have been adopted 
most commonly, she said thrice, — 

I shall go into a hare, 

With sorrow, and sych, and mickle care ; 

I shall go in the devil's name, 

Ay till I come home again.. 

" and instantly we start in a hare.'' When they 
wished to return to their own shape, they repeated 
thrice the words — 

Hare, hare, God send the care ! 

I am in a hare's likeness just now. 

But I shall he in a woman's likeness even now. 

When they chose the likeness of a cat, which was 
the next favourite form, they said thrice — 


T shall go intill a cat, 
With sorrow, and sych, and a black shot; 
And I shall go in the devil's name, 
A J till I come home again. 

The formula was similarly varied for other animals. 
As thus transformed they passed by the houses of 
other witches, they called them out, and they came 
in similar shapes. Travelling in these assumed 
shapes was not always safe. Isobel Gowdie, who 
often went in the form of a hare, was sent one day, 
about day-break, in this shape, with one of Satan's 
messages to some of her neighbours, and on her way 
met with the servants of Patrick Pepley of Killhill, 
who happened to have his hounds with them. The 
latter immediately gave chase to the transformed 
witch, and ran after her a long course, until weary 
and hard pressed, she gained her own house, and 
ran behind a chest. The door being open, the 
hounds followed her, but they happening to go to the 
other side of the chest, she had just time to run 
out and enter the house of a neighbour, where she 
was able to say the disenchanting charm, and re- 
covered her shape. She said that, while thus trans- 
formed, the hounds had not power to kill them, but 
if they chanced to be bitten, the wound remained 
after they had recovered their natural shape. 
" When we would be in the shape of cats, we did 
nothing but cry and ' wraw,' [a very expressive word 
for caterwauling,] and ' rywing' (tearing) and, as it 
were, worrying one another ; and when we come to 
our own shapes again, we will find the scratches 
and * rywes * on our skins very sore !" About the 
summer of 1659, " they went in the shape of rooks 


to the house of Mr. Robert Donaldson, where the 
devil, with John Taylor and his wife, went down 
the kitchen chimney, and perched on the crook, or 
iron on which the pot was suspended over the fire. 
The others seem not to have liked this mode of 
entry, and they waited till their friends opened a 
window, and then they all went into the house, 
and feasted on beef and drink, " but did no more 

Isobel Gowdie repeated in her confessions a great 
number of the verses which they used in their in- 
cantations, some of which are curious. Their me- 
thod of raising a tempestuous wind was to take a 
rag of cloth, wet it in water, and then take a beetle 
(with which washerwomen beat their linen) and 
knock it on the stone, repeating thrice — 

I knock this rag upon this stane, 

To raise the wind in the devil's name I 

It shall not lie until I please again ! 

To appease the wind, they dried the rag, and 
said, — 

We lay the wind in the devil's name, ^ 

It shall not rise till I like to raise it again ! 

If the wind, on this appeal, did not instantly 
abate, the witch called her spirit, and said to him, 
" Thief, thief, conjure the wind, and cause it to lie !" 
Isobel said that they had no power over rain. One 
of the witches, whose husband sold cattle, used to 
put a swallow's feather in the hide of the beast, and 
say thrice over it, before it went, — 


" I put out this beef in the devil's name, 
That mickle silver and good price come hame !" 

They had many charms for curing diseases, as well 
as for sending them. It was common with them, 
by such charms, to appropriate to themselves the 
property or gain of others. When they wished to 
" take the fruit of fishes " from the fishermen, they 
went to the shore before the boat came in, and 
standing on the brink of the water, they said 
thrice, — 

** The fishers are gone to the sea, 
And they will bring home fish to me ; 
They will bring them hame intill the boat, 
But they shall get of them but the smaller sort" 

As soon as the boat arrived, they stole a fish, or 
bought or begged one, and with it came to them 
" all the fruit of the whole fishes in the boat, and 
the fishes that the fishermen themselves will have 
will be but froth." 

• At Lammas, (the first of August,) the witches 
usually appropriated to themselves, in a similar 
manner, the corn and other produce of the fields, 
though the particular ceremonies for this purpose 
varied. Isobel Growdie told, in her confession, how, 
soon after her conversion to sorcery, she, with John 
Taylor and his wife, and some others, met in the 
kirk-yard of Nairn, and raised from its grave the 
corpse of an unchristened child. With this and 
some other ingredients, such as parings of finger and 
toe-nails, grains of different sorts, and leaves of cole- 
work, chopped very small, she formed a noxious 
mixture, and going to the end of the cornfields op- 

"• -— — — — 


posite the mill of Nairn, they threw some on the 
land. By this means, while the farmers reaped no- 
thing but straw, all the grain was conveyed to the 
secret storehouse of the witches, who usually kept 
it there till the following Christmas or Easter, and 
then shared it among the covine. She further 
stated, that one night before the Candlemass of 
1661, she went with the other witches to some fields 
* be-east' Kinlos, where they yoked a plough of pad- 
docks, or frogs ; the braces were of quickens, (quick 
or dog-grass,) and a riglen's or ram's-horn was the 
coulter. The officer of their covine, one John 
Young, was driver, while the devil held the plough. 
Thus they went several times about, all they of the 
covine going up and down with it, praying Satan 
for the fruit of that land, " and that thistles and 
briers might grow there,'' i. e. that this might be 
the only fruit reserved to the owners of the land. 
When they wished to take a cow's milk, they took 
tow or hemp, and twined and plaited it the wrong 
way, in the devil's name. They then drew the rope 
thus made in between the cow's two hind feet, and 
out between the fore feet, always in the name of 
the arch-fiend, and milked the rope. To restore the 
cow its milk, they must cut the rope in two. They 
had similar methods of taking and transferring the 
strength of people's ale, and of abstracting various 
other things. Isobel Gowdie further stated, that 
when any one of them fell into the hands of justice, 
she lost all her power, which was thereupon shared 
amongst the rest of her covine, in addition to that 
which they already possessed. 

We are not informed what became of Isobel 


Growdie, but her case must have been considered, at 
least in the district where it occurred, an important 
one, for the examinations were continued through 
two months. Her first confession is dated on the 
13th of April, 1662, and her last bears date of 
the 27th of May. Her most intimate associates ap- 
pear to have been John Taylor and his wife, th« 
latter of whom made a confession corroborating in 
some important points, especially in the history 
of the conspiracy against the laird of Park, those of 
Isobel Growdie. These confessions have been printed 
entire by Robert Pitcaim. 

Such were the confessions of Isobel Gowdie of 
Auldearn. If, as we are assured, they were purely 
voluntary, we must imagine that this woman was 
labouring under some strange delusion of the mind, 
and that she really believed the story she told. 
From the circumstantial character of her narrative, 
we can hardly avoid supposing that there were per- 
sons so far influenced by the popular superstitions, 
that they joined together in practising such ceremo- 
nies as are above described, and that they really be- 
lieved in their efficacy. That such delusion was 
possible on an extensive scale is shown by the cele- 
brated example of major Weir and his sister, who 
were executed less than ten years after the date of 
Isobel's confessions. This man had distinguished 
himself by his extraordinary zeal in the cause of the 
covenant, and had been appointed, in 1649, with 
the rank of major, to command the city guard of 
Edinburgh. He lived in a retired manner with a 
maiden sister. Both professed in their utmost rigour 
the severe doctrines of the party whose cause 


tbey had espoused, and the major, who always ap- 
peared in his ordinary behaviour reserved and me- 
lancholy, was especially endowed with the gift of 
prayer, which made him a welcome visitor to the 
side of a sick-bed. After the restoration, the me- 
lancholy of the major and his sister appeared to 
have become more and more sombre, until it settled 
into a kind of lunacy, and they believed themselves 
guilty of the most revolting crimes which disgrace 
humanity. The major now began to make extraor- 
dinary confessions to his friends, declaring that his 
sins were of that character, that he had no hopes of 
salvation, unless he should be brought to a shame- 
ful end in this world. His presbyterian friends did 
their utmost to restrain him, alarmed at the scandal 
that Weir's conduct was likely to bring on their re- 
ligion ; but the affair soon reached the ears of the 
royalists, who were just as glad to seize upon any 
occasion of hurting the cause of their opponents. 
Major Weir and his sister were arrested, and both 
made what was called a full confession, involving 
crimes of a degrading character. As these were 
most of them vices which the king's party had long 
been in the habit of ascribing to their religious ad- 
versaries, we are perhaps justified in believing that 
they may have taken advantage of their state of mind 
to suggest to them some of these self-accusations. 
They found two or three witnesses to those parts of 
his story which were most improbable. His sister 
declared that he had a magical staff, which he 
always carried with him, and which gave him elo- 
quence in prayer. She said, that once a person 
called upon them at noon-day with a fiery chariot, 
vol.. II. M 

/ ' 


visible only to themselves, and took them to visit a 
friend at Dalkeith, where her brother received in- 
formation, by supernatural means, of the event of 
the battle of Worcester, and that she herself had in- 
tercourse with the queen of the fairies, who assisted 
her in spinning an unusual quantity of yam. There 
was a woman who lived in the West Bow, at no 
great distance from major Weir's house, who gave 
the following evidence. She was a substantial 
merchant's mfe, and " being very desirous to hear 
him pray, for that end spoke to some of her neigh- 
bours, that when he came to their house she might 
be sent for. This was done, but he could never be 
persuaded to open his mouth before her, no, not to 
bless a cup of ale ; he either remained mute, or up 
with his staff and away. Some few days before he 
discovered himself, this gentlewoman coming from 
the castle-hill, where her husband's niece was lying- 
in of a child, about midnight perceived about the 
Bow-head three women in the windows, shouting, 
laughing, and clapping their hands. The gentle- 
woman went forward, till just at major Weir's door, 
there arose, as from the street, a woman about the 
height of two ordinary females, and stepped forward. 
The gentlewoman, not as yet excessively feared, bid 
her maid step on, if by the lantern they could see 
what she was ; but haste what they could, this long- 
lesrged spectre was still before them, moving her 
body with a vehement cachinnation, a great unmea- 
surable laughter. At this rate the two strove for 
place, till the giantess came to a narrow lane in the 
Bow, commonly called the Stinking-close, into 
which she turning, and the gentlewoman looking 

- I II T-ra- 


after her, perceived the close full of flaming torches, 
(she could give them no other name,) and as it had 
been a great multitude of people, stentoriously 
laughing, and gaping with tahees of laughter. This 
sight, at so dead a time of the night, no people 
being in the windows belonging to the close, made 
her and her servant haste home, declaring all what 
they saw to the rest of the family, but more pas- 
sionately to her husband. And though sick with 
fear, yet she went the next morning with her maid 
to view the noted places of her former night's walk, 
and at the close inquired who lived there. It was 
answered, major Weir ; the honest couple now re- 
joicing that to Weir's devotion they never said 
amen.'' When 'major Weir's sister was brought to 
the place of execution, and saw the multitude of 
spectators, she exclaimed, " Many weep and lament 
for a poor old wretch like me ; but, alas ! few are 
weeping for a broken covenant." A clear proof of 
the stat^ of mind in which thes^ miserable people 

M 2 




In general the countries of northern Europe ap- 
pear to have been less subject to these extensive 
witch-prosecutions than the south, although there 
the ancient popular superstitions reigned in great 
force. Probably this latter circumstance contri- 
buted not a little to the extraordinary character as- 
sumed by a case of this nature, which, during the 
years 1669 and 1670, caused a great sensation 
throughout Sweden, and drew also the attention of 
other countries. It began in a district which would 
seem by its name of Elfdale to have been the pecu- 
liar domain of the fairies, and the chief actors in it 
were children, whom, according to the old popular 
belief, the fairies were always on the look out to 
carry away. 

The villages of Mohra and Elfdale are situated in 
the dales of the mountainous districts of the central 
part of Sweden. In the first of the years above-men- 
tioned, a strange report went abroad that the chil- 



dren of the neighbourliood were carried away nightly 
to a place they called Blockola, where they were re- 
ceived by Satan in person ; and the children them- 
selves, who were the authors of the report, pointed 
out to numerous women who they said were witches 
and carried them thither. We have no information 
as to the manner in which this affair arose, or how 
it was first made public, but within a short space of 
time nearly all the children of the district became 
compromised in it, and agreed in nearly the same story. 
They asserted in the strongest manner the fact of 
their being carried away in multitudes to the place 
of ghostly rendezvous, and we are told that the pale 
and emaciated appearance of these juvenile victims 
gave consistency to their statements, although there 
was the testimony of their own parents that during 
their pretended absence they had never been missed 
from home. 

Some of the incidents in this singular and tragi- 
cal case seem to have been borrowed from the 
witchcraft-cases in France and Germany, although 
it is not very easy to understand how this could 
have been the case in what was evidently a very 
retired part of the country. The minister seems to 
have shared largely in the delusion, and he may per- 
haps have been involuntarily the means of working 
the story of the children into its finished form. The 
alarm and terror in the district became so great^ 
that a report was at last made to the king, who no- 
minated commissioners, partly clergy and partly 
laymen, to inquire into the extraordinary circum- 
stances which had been brought under hi^ notice, 
and these commissioners arrived in Mohra and an- 


nounced their intention of opening their proceed- 
ings on the 13th of August, 1670. 

On the ] 2th of August, the commissioners met at 
the parsonage-house, and heard the complaints of 
the minister and several people of the better class, 
who told them of the miserable condition they were 
in, and prayed that by some means or other they 
might be delivered from the calamity. They gravely 
told the commissioners that by the help of witches 
some hundred of their children had been drawn to 
Satan, who had been seen to go in a visible shape 
through the country, and to appear daily to the 
people ; the poorer sort of them, they said, he had 
seduced by feasting them with meat and drink. 
Prayers and humiliations, it appears, had been 
ordered by the church authorities, and were 
strictly observed, but the inhabitants of the village 
lamented before the commissioners that they had 
been of no avail, and that their children were car- 
ried away by the fiend in spite of their devotions. 
They therefore earnestly begged that the witches 
who had been the cause of the evil might be rooted 
out, and that they might thus regain their former 
rest and quietness, " the rather," they said, " be- 
cause the children which used to be carried away in 
the country or district of Elfdale, since some 
witches had been burnt there, remained unmo- 
lested.'" This certainly was a cogent argument for 

The 13th of August was the last day appointed 
for prayer and humiliation, and before opening their 
commission the commissioners went to church, 
" where there appeared a considerable assembly 


both of young and old. The children could read 
most of them, and sing psalms, and so could the 
women, though not with any great zeal and fervour. 
There were preached two sermons that day, in which 
the miserable case of those people that suffered 
themselves to be deluded by the devil was laid 
open; and these sermons were at last concluded 
with very fervent prayer. The public worship being 
over, all the people of the town were called together 
in the parson's house, near three thousand of them. 
Silence being commanded; the king's commission 
was read publicly in the hearing of them all, and 
they were charged, under very great penalties, to 
conceal nothing of what they knew, and to say no- 
thing but the truth, those especially who were 
guilty, that the children might be delivered from 
the clutches of the devil; they all promised obe- 
dience ; the guilty feignedly, but the guiltless weep- 
ing and crying bitterly." 

The commissioners entered upon their duties on 
the next day with the utmost diligence, and the re- 
sult of their misguided zeal formed one of the most 
remarkable examples of cruel and remorseless per- 
secution that stain the annals of sorcery. No less 
than threescore and ten inhabitants of the village 
and district of Mohra, three-and-twenty of whom 
made confessions, were condemned and executed. 
One woman pleaded that she was with child, and 
the rest denied their guilt, and these were sent to 
Fahluna, where most of them were afterwards put 
to deatL Fifteen children were among those who 
suffered death, and thirty-six more, of different 
ages between nine and sixteen, were forced to run 

248 80ECEBT Aim KA6IG. 

the gauntlet, and be scourged on the hands at the 
church-door every Sunday for one year; while twenty 
more, who had been drawn into these practices more 
unwillingly, and were very young, were condemned 
to be scourged with rods upon their hands for three 
successive Sundays at the church-door. The num- 
ber of the children accused was about three hun- 

It appears that the commissioners began by taking 
Ae confessions of the children, and then they con- 
fronted them with the witches whom the children 
accused as their seducers. The latter^ to use the 
words of the authorized report, having "most of 
them children with them, which they had either se- 
duced or attempted to seduce, some seven years of 
age, nay, from four to sixteen years," now appeared 
before the commissioners. " Some of the children 
complained lamentably of the misery and mischief 
they were forced sometimes to suffer of the devil 
and the witches." Being asked, whether they were 
sure, that they were at any time carried away by 
the devil .^ they all replied in the affirmative. 
" Hereupon the witches themselves were asked, 
whether the confessions of those children were true, 
and admonished to confess the truth, that they 
might turn away from the devil unto the living 
GroA At first, most of them did very stiffly, and 
without shedding the least tear, deny it, though 
much against their will and inclination. After this 
the children were examined every one by them- 
selves, to see whether their confessions did agree or 
no, and the commissioners found that all of them, 
except some very little ones, which could not tell all 


the circumstances, did punctually agree in their 
confessions of particulars. In the meanwhile, the 
commissioners that were of the clergy examined the 
witches, but could not bring them to any confes- 
sion, all continuing stedfast in their denials, till at 
last some of them burst out into tears, and their 
confession agreed with what the children said ; and 
these expressed their abhorrence of the fact, and 
begged pardon. Adding that the devil,' whom they 
called Locyta, had stopped the mouths of some of 
them, so loath was he to part with his prey, and 
had stopped the ears of others. And being now 
gone from them, they could no longer conceal it ; 
for they had now perceived his treachery.'^ 

The various confessions, not only of the witches 
and children in Mohra, but of those of Elfdale, 
presented a remarkable uniformity, even in their 
more minute details. They all asserted that they 
were carried to a place called Blockula, although 
they appear to have been ignorant where or at 
how great a distance it lay, and that they were there 
feasted by the arch-fiend. The confession of the 
witches of Elfdale ran thus : — " We of the province 
of Elfdale do confess, that we used to go to a 
gravel-pit, which lies hard by a cross-way, and 
there we put on a vest over our heads, and then 
danced round ; and after this ran to the cross-way, 
and called thox devil thrice, first with a still voice, 
the second time somewhat louder, and the third 
time very loud, with these words, — ' Antecessor, 
come and carry us to Blockula.' Whereupon im- 
mediately he used to appear ; but in different 
habits ; but for the most part we saw him in a grey 

M 5 


coat and red and blue stockings ; he had a red beard, a 
high-crowned hat, with linen of divers colours wrapt 
about it, and long garters upon his stockings. (It is 
very remarkable, — says the report, — ^that the devfl 
never appears to the witches with a sword by his 
side.) Then he asked us, whether we would serve 
him with soul and body. If we were content to do 
so, he set us on a beast which he had there ready, 
and carried us over churches and high walls, and 
after all we came to a green meadow where 
Blockula lies. We must procure some scrapings of 
altars, and filings of church clocks ; and then he 
gave us a horn, with a salve in it, wherewith we do 
anoint ourselves, and a saddle, with a hammer and a 
wooden nail, thereby to fix the saddle ; whereupon 
we call upon the devil, and away we go/^ 

The witches of Mohra made similar statements ; 
and being asked whether they were sure of a real 
personal transportation, and whether they were 
awake when it took place, they all answered in 
the afiirmative ; and they said that the devil some- 
times laid something down in their place that was 
very like them ; but one of them asserted that he 
did only take away " her strength,'^ while her body 
lay still upon the ground, though sometimes he 
took away her body also. They were then asked, 
how they could go with their bodies through chim- 
neys and unbroken panes of glass ; to which they 
replied, that the devil did first remove all that 
might hinder them in their flight, and so they had 
room enough to go. Others, who were asked how 
they were able to carry so many children with 
them, said that they came into the chamber where 


the children lay asleep, and laid hold of them, upon 
which they awoke ; they then asked them whether 
they would go to a feast with them. To which 
some answered, Yes ; others, No, " yet they were 
all forced to go;" they only gave the children a 
shirt, and a coat and doublet, which was either ried 
or blue, and so they set them upon a beast of the 
devil's providing, and then they rode away. The 
children confessed that this was true, and some of 
them added, that because they had very fine clothes 
put upon them, they were very willing to go. Some 
of the children said that they concealed it from 
their parents, while others made no secret of their 
visits to Blockula. " The witches declared, more- 
over, that till of late, they had never power to 
carry away children, but only this year and the 
last ; and the devil did at that time force them to 
it ; that heretofore it was sufficient to carry but 
one of their own children, or a stranger's child with 
them, which happened seldom ; but now he did 
plague them and whip them, if they did not pro- 
cure him many children, insomuch that they had 
no peace nor quiet for him. And whereas that for- 
merly one journey a week would serve their turn 
from their own town to the place aforesaid, now 
they were forced to run to other towns and places 
for children, and that they brought with them 
some fifteen, some sixteen children every night" 

The journey to Blockula was not always made 
with the same kind of conveyance ; they commonly 
used men, beasts, even spits and posts, according 
as they had opportunity. They preferred, however, 
riding upon goats, and if they had more children 


with them than the animal could conyenimtiT 
carry, they elongated its back by means of a spit 
anointed with their magical ointment It was fwp- 
ther stated, that if the children did at anj time 
name the names of those, either man or womaa, 
that had been with them, and had carried th^a 
away,, they were again carried by force, either to 
Blockula or the cross- way, and there beaten, inso- 
much that some of them died of it ; ^^ and this 
some of the witches confessed, and added, that now 
they were exceedingly troubled and tortured in 
their minds for it/' One thing was wanting to 
confirm this circumstance of their confession. The 
marks of the whip could not be found on the per- 
sons of the victims, except on one boy, who had 
some wounds and holes in his back, that were 
given him with thorns ; but the witches said they 
would quickly vanish. 

The confessions were very minute in regard to 
the effects of the journey on the children after their 
return. " They are," says the history, " exceed- 
ingly weak ; and if any be carried over night, they 
cannot recover themselves the next day, and they 
often fall into fits ; the coming of which they 
know by an extraordinary paleness that seizes on 
the children, and when a fit comes upon them, they 
lean upon their mother's arms, who sits up with 
them, sometimes all night, and when they observe 
the paleness, shake the children, but to no purpose. 
They observe, further, that their children's breasts 
grow cold at such times, and they take sometimes 
a burning candle and stick it in their hair, which 
yet is not burned by it. They swoon upon this 

_i..)t •JB'.wDa . liSs 


paleness, which swoon lasteth sometimes half aa 
hour, sometimes an hour, sometimes two hours, and 
when the children come to themselves again, they 
ma^rn and lament, and groan most miserably, and 
beg exceedingly to be eased. This the old men 
declared upon oath before the judges, and called 
the inhabitants of the town to witness, as persons 
that had most of them experience of the strong 
symptoms of their children/' 

One little girl in Elfdale confessed that, happen- 
ing accidentally to utter the name of Jesus, as she 
was carried away, she fell suddenly upon the 
ground, and received a hurt in her side, which the 
devil presently healed, and away he carried her. 

A boy of the same district said that one day he 
was carried away with his mistress ; and to per- 
fonn the journey he took his father's horse out of 
the meadow, where it was feeding, and upon his 
return, she let the horse go into her own ground 
The next morning the boy's father sought for the 
horse, and not finding it in its place, imagined that 
it was lost, till the boy told him the whole story, 
emd the father found the horse according to his 
child's statement. 

The account they gave of Blockula was, that it 
was situated in a large meadow, like a plain sea, 
" wherein you can see no end." The house they 
met at had a great gate painted with many divers 
colours. Through this gate they went into a little 
meadow distinct from the other, and here they 
turned their animals to graze* When they had 
made use of men for their beasts of burthen, they 
set them up against the wall in & state of helpless 


slumber, and there they remained till wanted for the 
homeward flight In a very large room of this 
house, stood a long table, at which the witches sat 
down; and adjoining to this room was another 
chamber, where there were "lovely and delicate 

As soon as th^y arrived at Blockula, the visitors 
were required to deny their baptism, and devote 
themselves body and soul to Satan, whom they pro- 
mised to serve faithfully. Hereupon he cut their 
fingers, and they wrote their name with blood in his 
book. He then caused them to be baptized anew, by 
priests appointed for that purpose. Upon this the 
devil gave them a purse, wherein there were filings 
of clocks, with a big stone tied to it, which they 
threw into the water, and said, " As these filings 
of the clock do never return to the clock, from 
which they were taken, so may my soul never re- 
turn to heaven !" Another difficulty arose in veri- 
fying this statement, that few of the children had 
any marks on their fingers to show where they had 
been cut. But here again the story was helped by 
a girl who had her finger much hurt, and who de- 
clared, that because she would not stretch out her 
finger, the devil in anger had thus wounded it 

When these ceremonies were completed, the 
witches sat down at the table, those whom the fiend 
esteemed most being placed nearest to him ; but 
the children were made to stand at the door, where 
he himself gave them meat and drink. Perhaps we 
may look for the origin of this part of the story in 
the pages of Pierre de Lancre. The food with 
which the visitors to Blockula were regaled, consisted 

Satan's amusements. 255 

of broth, with coleworts and bacon in it ; oatmeal 
bread spread with butter, milk, and cheese. Some- 
times, they said, it tasted very well, and sometimes 
very ill. After meals they went to dancing, and it 
was one peculiarity of these northern witches' sab- 
baths, that the dance was usually followed by fight- 
ing. Those of Elfdale confessed that the devil used 
to play upon a harp before them. Another pecu- 
liarity of these northern witches was, that children 
resulted from their intercourse with Satan, and 
these children having married together, became the 
parents of toads and serpents. Satan loved to play 
tricks upon his subjects. One day he pretended to 
be dead, and, singularly enough, there was great 
lamentation among the witches at Blockula; but 
he soon showed signs of life. If he had a mind to 
be merry with them, he let them all ride upon spits 
before him, and finished by taking the spits and 
beating them black and blue, and then laughed at 
them. Then he told them that the day of judg- 
ment was at hand, and set them to build a great 
house of stone, promising that in this house he would . 
preserve them from Grod's wrath, and cause them 
to enjoy the greatest delights and pleasures; but 
while they were hard at work, he caused a great 
part of the work to fall down upon them, and some 
of the witches were severely hurt, which made him 

Some of the children spoke of a very great demon 
like a dragon, with fire round about him, and 
bound with an iron chain ; and the devil told them 
that if they confessed anything, he would set that 


great devil loose upon them, whereby all Sweden 
should come into great dang^^ They said that the 
devil had a church there like that in the village oS 
If ohra. When he heard that the commissioners were 
eoming, he told the witches thej should not fear 
them, for he would certainly kill them alL And 
they confessed some of them had attempted to 
murder the commissioners, but had not been suc- 
cessful. Some of the children improved upon these 
stories, and told of ^' a white angel, which used to 
forbid them what the devil had bid them do, and 
told that these things should not last long ; what 
had been done had been permitted, because of the 
sin and wibkedness of the people and their parents ; 
and that the carrying away of the children should 
be made manifest. And they added, that this 
white angel would place himself sometimes at the 
door betwixt the witches and the children, and 
that when they came to Blockula he pulled the 
children back, but the witches went on.'' 

The witches of Sweden appear to have been less 
noxious than those of most other countries, for, 
whatever they acknowledged themselves, there seems 
to have been no evidence of mischief done by them. 
Hey confessed that they were obliged to promise 
Satan that they would do all kind of mischief, and 
that the devil taught them to milk, which was after 
this manner. They used to stick a knife in the 
wall, and hang a kind of label on it, which they 
drew and stroaked ; and as long as this lasted, the 
persons they had power over were miserably plagued, 
and the beasts were milked that way, till some- 

• « 

.•JL-:Z t— t"'" — -f^T'SriS »• - 


times they died of it. A woman confessed that 
the devil gave her a wooden knife, wherewith, 
going into houses, she had power to kill anything 
she touched with it ; yet there were few that would 
confess that they had hurt any man or woman. 
Being asked whether they had murdered any chil- 
dren, they confessed that they had indeed tor- 
mented many, but did not know whether any of 
them died of these plagues, although they said that 
the devil had showed them several places where he 
had power to do mischief The minister of Elfdale 
declared, that one night these witches were, to his 
thinking, on the crown of his head, and that from 
thence he had a long continued pain of the head. 
And upon this one of the witches confessed that 
the devil had sent her to torment that minister, and 
that she was ordered to use a nail, and strike it 
into his head ; but his skull was so hard that the 
nail would not penetrate it, and merely produced 
that headache. The hard-headed minister said 
further, that one night he felt a pain as if he were 
torn with an instrument used for combing flax, and 
when he awoke he heard somebody scratching and 
scraping at the window, but could see nobody ; and 
one of the witches confessed, that she was the per- 
son that had thus disturbed him. The minister of 
Mohra declared also, that one night one of these 
witches came into his house, and did so violently 
take him by the throat, that he thought he should 
have been choaked, and awaking, he saw the per- 
son that did it, but could not know her ; and that 
for some weeks he was not able to speak, or per- 

258 80&CEBY AND MAGia 

form divine service. An old woman of Elfdale con- 
fessed, that the devil had helped her to make a 
nail, which she struck into a boy's knee, of which 
stroke the boy remained lame a long time. And 
she added, that, before she was burned or executed 
by the hand of justice, the boy would recover. 

Another circumstance confessed by these witches 
was, that the devil gave them a beast, about the shape 
and bigness of a cat, which they called a carrier, 
and a bird as big as a raven, but white ; and these 
they could send anywhere, and wherever they came 
they took away all sorts of victuals, such as butter, 
cheese, milk, bacon, and all sorts of seeds, and carried 
them to the witch. What the bird brought they kept 
for themselves, but what the carrier brought, they 
took to Blockula, where the arch-fiend gave them as 
much of it as he thought good. The carriers, they 
said, filled themselves so full oftentimes, that they 
were forced to disgorge it by the way, and what 
they thus rendered fell to the ground, and is found 
in several gardens where coleworts grow, and far 
from the houses of the witches. It was of a yellow 
colour like gold, and was called witches' butter. 

" The lords commissioners," says the report, 
" were indeed very earnest, and took great pains to 
persuade them to show some of their tricks, but to 
no purpose ; for they did all unanimously declare, 
that since they had confessed all, they found that 
all their witchcraft was gone ; and the devil at this 
time appeared very terrible, with claws on his 
hands and feet, with horns on his head, and a long 
tail behind, and showed them a pit burning, with a 




band out ; but the devil did thrust the person 
down again with an iron fork, and suggested to the 
witches that if they continued in their confession, 
he would deal with them in the same manner/' 

Such are the details, as far as they can now be 
obtained, of this extraordinary delusion, the only 
one of a similar kind that we know to have oc- 
curred in the northern part of Europe during the 
" age of witchcraft/' In other countries we can 
generally trace some particular cause which gave 
rise to great persecutions of this kind, but here, as 
the story is told, we see none, for it is hardly likely 
that such a strange series of accusations should 
have been the mere involuntary creation of a party 
of little children. Suspicion is excited by the pecu- 
liar part which the two clergymen of Elfdale and 
Mohra acted in it, that they were not altogether 
strangers to the fabrication. They seem to have 
been weak superstitious men, and perhaps they had 
been reading the witchcraft books of the south till 
they imagined the country round them to be over- 
run with these noxious beinga The proceedings at 
Mohra caused so much alarm throughout Sweden, 
that prayers were ordered in aU the churches for 
delivery from the snares of Satan, who was believed 
to have been let ^ loose in that kingdom. On a 
sudden a new edict of the king put a stop to the 
whole process, and the matter was brought to a 
close rather mysteriously. It is said that the witch 
prosecution was increasing so much in intensity, 
that accusations began to be made against people 
of higher class in society, and then a complaint was 
made to the king, and they were stopped. Perhaps 


260 60B0B&T jiJn> XAGia 

the. two clergymen themselyes became alarmed, but 
one thing eeems certain^ that the moment the com- 
mission was revoked, and the persecution ceased, no 
more witches were heard oi It was thus in most 
coimtries ; as long as the poor alone were the vic- 
tims, their sufferings excited little commiseration, 
but the moment the persecution began to reach the 
rich, it excited their alarm, and means were found 
to put a stop to it, except when it had some ulte- 
rior object which it was the interest of those in 
power to pursue. 




On the tenth of March, 1664, there was a remark- 
able trial of witches at Bury St. Edmunds, in Suf- 
folk, the scene of the labours of Matthew Hopkins 
nearly twenty years before. The victims were 
two poor widows of Lowestoff, who appear to 
have obtained a Uving by performing a number of 
menial offices for their neighbours. One of the 
chief witnesses was a woman of the same town, 
named Dorothy Durent, who deposed that, about 
five or six years before, she had employed Amy 
Duny, one of the prisoners, to nurse her infant 
child while she went out of the house about her 
affairs, and that on her return she quarrelled with 
her for having acted contrary to her directions, 
upon which Amy Duny went away in anger, 
uttering " many high expressions and threatening 
speeches.^" The same night her child was seized 
with strange and dangerous fits. " And the said 
examinant further said, that she being exceedingly 
troubled at her child's distemper, did go to a cer- 


tain person named doctor Job Jacob, who lived at 
Yarmouth, who had the reputation in the country 
to help children that were bewitched ; who advised 
her to hang up the child's blanket in the chimney- 
comer all day, and at night, when she put the child 
to bed, to put it into the said blanket ; and if she 
found anything in it she should not be afraid, but 
to throw it into the fire. And this deponent did 
according to his direction, and at night, when she 
took down the blanket with an intent to put her 
child therein, there fell out of the same a great 
toad, which ran up and down the hearth, and she 
having a young youth only with her in the house, 
desired him to catch the toad and throw it into the 
fire, which the youth did accordingly, and held it 
there with the tongs ; and as soon as it was in the 
fire, it made a great and horrible noise, and after a 
space there was a flashing in the fire Uke gun- 
powder, making a noise like the discharge of a 
pistol, and thereupon the toad was no more seen 
nor heard. It was asked by the court, if that after 
the noise and flashing there was not the substance 
of the toad to be seen to consume in the fire ; and 
it was answered by the said Dorothy Durent, that 
after the flashing and noise, there was no more 
seen than if there had been none there. The next 
day there came a young woman, a kinswoman of 
the said Amy, and a neighbour of this deponent, 
and told this deponent that her aunt (meaning the 
said Amy) was in a most lamentable condition, 
having her face all scorched with fire, and that she 
was sitting alone in her house, in her smock, 
without any fire. And thereupon this deponent 


went into the house of the said Amy Duny to see 
h^, and found her in the same condition as was 
related to her, for her face, her legs, and thighs, 
which this deponent saw, seemed very much 
scorched and burnt with fire, at which this depo- 
nent seemed much to wonder, and asked the said 
Amy how she came into that sad condition ; and 
the said Amy replied that she might thank her for 
it, for that she, this deponent, was the cause there- 
of, but that she should live to see some of her chil- 
dren dead, and she upon crutches. And this de- 
ponent further saith, that after the burning of the 
said toad her child recovered, and was well again, 
and was living at the time of the assizes/' 

Subsequent to these new threats, another child 
of Dorothy Durent's was taken ill and died, and 
she herself was seized with a lameness in her legs, 
in consequence of which she had remained a cripple 
ever since. 

The next offence laid to the charge of Amy Duny 
was the bewitching of the children of Samuel Pacy, 
a merchant of Lowestoff, who " carried himself 
with much soberness during the trial.'' This man 
deposed " that his younger daughter, Deborah, 
upon Thursday the tenth of October last, was sud- 
denly taken with a lameness in her leggs, so that 
she could not stand, neither had she any strength 
in her limbs to support her, and so she continued 
until the seventeenth day of the same month, 
which day being fair and sunshiny, the child de- 
sired to be carried on the east part of the house, to 
be set upon the bank which looketh upon the sea ; 
and whilst she was sitting there. Amy Dimy came 


to this deponent's honse to buy some herrings, bnt 
being denied, she went away discontented, and pre- 
sently returned again, and was denied, and like* 
-wise the third time, and was denied as at first ; 
and at her last going away, she went away gram- 
bling, but what she said was not perfectly iindeiv 
stood. But at the very same instant of time the 
said child was taken with most violent fits, feeling 
most extreme pain in her stomach, like the prick- 
ing of pins, and shrieking out in a most dreadftil 
manner, like unto a whelp, and not like unto a sen- 
sible creature. And in this extremity the child 
continued, to the great grief of the parents, until 
the thirtieth of the same month. During this time 
this deponent sent for one Dr. Feavor, a doctor of 
physick, to take his advice concerning Ms child's 
distemper. The doctor being come, he saw the 
child in those fits, but could not conjecture (as he 
then told this deponent, and afterwards he affirmed 
in open court at this trial) what might be the 
cause of the child's affliction. And this deponent 
further saith, that by reason of the circumstances 
aforesaid, and in regard Amy Duny is a woman 
of an ill fame, and commonly reported to be a 
witch and a sorceress, and for that the said child 
in her fits would cry out of Amy Duny as the cause 
of her malady, and that she did affright her with 
apparitions of her person (as the child in the in- 
terval of her fits related), he, this deponent, did 
suspect the said Amy Duny for a witch, and 
charged her with the injury and wrong to his chad, 
and caused her to be set in the stocks on the 
twenty-eighth of the same October ; and during the 




tiifie of her continuance there, one Alice Letteridge 
and Jane Buxtpn demanded of her (as they also 
affirmed in court upon their oaths) what should 
be the reason of Mr. Pacy's child's distemper, telling 
her that she was suspected to be the cause thereof. 
She replied, ^Mr. Pacy keeps a great stir about his 
child, but let him stay until he hath done as much 
by his children as I have done by mina' And 
being further examined what she had done to her 
children, she answered that she had been fain to 
open her child's mouth with a tap to give it vic- 
tuals. And the said deponent further deposeth, 
that within two days after speaking of the said 
words, being the thirtieth of October, his eldest 
daughter Elizabeth fell into extreme fits, inasmuch 
that they could not open her mouth to give her 
broth to preserve her life without the help of a 
tap, which they were enforced to use ; and the 
younger child was in like manner afflicted, so that 
they used the same also for her relief" 

The children were now continually visited with 
fits, similar to other supposed sufferers from witch- 
craft, including the vomiting of crooked pins, nails, 
&c., and the spasmodic trances, in the latter of 
which they were in the habit of crying out against 
various women of ill-repute in the town, who, they 
said, were present tormenting them, but more espe- 
cially against Amy Duny and the other prisoner, 
whose name was Rose Cullender. The children de- 
clared that these two women appeared to them 
sometimes in the act of spinning, and at other times 
in a variety of postures, threatening and mocking 
them. A friend of the family appeared in court as 



an independent witness, and deposed, that in her 
presence " the children would in their fits cry out 
against Rose Cullender and Amy Duny, affirming 
that they saw them ; and they threatened to tor- 
ment them ten times more if they complained of 
them. At some times the children (only) would see 
things run up and down the house in the appear- 
ance of mice ; and one of them suddenly snapt one 
with the tongs, and threw it into the fire, and it 
screeched out like a bat At another time, the 
younger child being out of her fits, went out of 
doors to take a little fresh air, and presently a little 
thing like a bee flew upon her face, and would 
have gone into her mouth, whereupon the child ran 
in all haste to the door to get into the house again, 
shrieking out in a most terrible manner ; where- 
upon this deponent made haste to come to her, but 
before she could get to her, the child fell into her 
swooning fit, and at last, with much pain and strain- 
ing herself, she vomited up a twopenny nail with a 
broad head ; and after that the child had raised up 
the nail she came to her understanding, and being 
demanded by this deponent how she came by this 
nail, she answered that the bee brought this nail 
and forced it into her mouth. And at other times 
the elder child declared unto this deponent that 
during the time of her fits, she saw flies come unto 
her, and bring with them in their mouths crooked 
pins ; and after the child had thus declared the 
same, she fell again into violent fits, and afterwards 
raised several pins. At another time the said elder 
child declared unto this deponent, and sitting by 
the fire suddenly started up and said she saw a 




mouse, and she crept under the table looking after 
it, and at length she put something in her apron, 
saying she had caught it ; and immediately she 
ran to the fire and threw it in, and there did appear 
upon it to this deponent, like the flashing of gun- 
powder, though she confessed she saw nothing in 
the child's hands." 

Another person bewitched was a servant girl 
named Susan Chandler, whose mother, besides de- 
posing to the discovery of Satan's marks on the 
body of one of the witches, said, "that her said 
daughter being of the age of eighteen years, was 
then in service in the said town, and rising up 
early the next morning to wash, this Rose Cul- 
lender appeared to her, and took her by the hand, 
whereat she was much affrighted, and went forth- 
with to her mother, (being in the same town,) and 
acquainted her with what she had seen ; but being 
extremely terrified, she fell extreme sick, much 
grieved at her stomach, and that night, after being 
in bed with another young woman, she suddenly 
shrieked out, and fell into such extreme fits as if 
she were distracted, crying against Rose Cullender, 
saying she would come to bed to her. She conti- 
nued in this manner beating and wearing herself, 
insomuch that this deponent was glad to get help 
to attend her. In her intervals she would declare 
that sometimes she saw Rose Cullender alone, at 
another time with a great dog with her ; she also 
vomited up divers crooked pins ; and sometimes she 
was stricken with blindness, and at another time 
she was dumb, and so she appeared to be in court 
when the trial of the prisoners was, for she was not 

N 2 


able to speak her knowledge ; but being brought 
into court at the trial, she suddenly fell into her 
fits, and being carried out of the court again, within 
the space of half an hour she came to herself and 
recovered her speech, and thereupon was immedi- 
atelj brought into the court, and asked by the 
court whether she was in condition to take an oath, 
and to give evidence. She said she could. But 
when she was sworn, and asked what she could say 
against either of the prisoners, before she could 
make any answer she fell into her fits, shrieking 
out in a miserable manner, crying, * Bum her, 
bum her!' which was all the words she could 

Such was the evidence against the two miserable 
women dragged before the court as prisoners ; and 
the barrister who advocated their cause earnestly 
pleaded its insufficiency as the mere effect of the 
imaginations of the persons aggrieved, which was 
supported by no direct and substantial evidence 
fixing the crime on the two persons accused, even 
supposing that the accusers had really been be- 
witched. The celebrated Sir Thomas Brown was 
next brought forwards in court, and on being asked 
what he thought of the case, declared that " he was 
clearly of opinion that the persons were bewitched," 
with some further remarks, which appear strange 
as coming from the mouth of the great exposer of 
" vulgar errors." 

Doubts still existed among some of those who 
were present in court, and they attempted to dispel 
these by a practical experiment. " At first, during 
the time of the trial, there were some experiments 



made with the persons afflicted, by bringing the 
persons to touch them ; and it was observed, that 
when they were in the midst of their fits, to all 
men's apprehension wholly deprived of all sense 
and understanding, closing their fists in such a 
manner as that the strongest man in the court 
covld not force them open, yet by the least touch 
of one of those supposed witches. Rose Cullender 
by name, they would suddenly shriek out, opening 
their hands, which accident would not happen by 
the touch of any other person. And lest they 
might privately see when they were touched by 
the said Rose Cullender, they were blinded with 
their own aprons, and the touching took the same 
effect as before. There was an ingenious person 
that objected there might be a great faUacy in this 
experiment, and there ought not to be any stress 
put upon this to convict the parties, for the chil* 
dren might counterfeit this their distemper,' and 
perceiving what was done to them, they might in 
such manner suddenly alter the motion and gesture 
of their bodies, on purpose to induce persons to 
believe that they were not natural, but wrought 
strangely by the touch of the prisonera Wherefore 
to avoid this scruple, it was privately desired by 
the judge that the lord Cornwallis, sir Edmund 
Bacon, and Mr. Serjeant Keeling, and some other 
gentlemen there in court, would attend one of the 
distempered persons in the farthest part of the hall, 
whilst she was in her fits, and then to send for one 
of the witches, to try what would then happen, 
which they did accordingly ; and Amy Duny was 
conveyed from the bar and brought to the maid ; 


they put an apron before lier eyes, and tlien one 
other person touched her hand, which produced the 
same effect as the touch of the witch did in the 
court Whereupon the gentleman returned, openly 
protesting that they did belieye the whole transac- 
tion of this business was a mere imposture. This 
put the court and all persons into a stand ; but at 
length Mr. Pacy did declare, that possibly the maid 
might be deceived by a suspicion that the witoh 
touched her when she did not For he had ob- 
served divers times, that although they could not 
speak, but were deprived of the use of their tongues 
and limbs, that their understandings were perfect, 
for that they have related divers things which have 
been when they were in their fits, after they were 
recovered out of them.'' ^ 

Disappointed in this experiment, the accusers 
now brought forward some other evidence to prove 
the character of the prisoners, the principal of 
which was ^^ one John Soam of Lowestoff, yeoman, 
a sufficient person,'' who deposed, ^^ That not long 
since, in harvest time, he had three carts whieh 
brought home his harvest, and as they were going 
into the field to load, one of the carts wrenched the 
window of Rose Cullender's house, whereupon she 
came out in a great rage and threatened this de- 
ponent for doing that wrong, and so they passed 
along into the fields and loaded all the three carts, 
the other two carts returned safe home, and back 
again, twice loaded that day afterwards ; but as to 
this cart which touched Rose Cullender's house, 
after it was loaded it was overturned twice or 
thrice that day ; and after that they had loaded it 



again this second or third time, as they brought 
it through the gate which leadeth out of the field 
into the town, the cart stuck so fast in the gate- 
stead, that they could not possibly get it through, 
but were enforced to cut down the post of the gate 
to make the cart pass through, although they could 
not perceive that the cart did of either side touch 
the gate-post And this deponent further said, 
that after they had got it through the gateway, 
they did with much difficulty get it home into the 
yard ; but for all that they could do, they could 
not get the cart near into the place where they 
should unload the com, but were fain to unload it 
at a great distance from the place ; and when they 
began to unload, they found much difficulty therein, 
it being so hard a labour that they were tired that 
first came ; and when others came to assist them, 
their noses burst forth a bleeding; so they were 
fain to desist, and leave it until the next morning, 
and dien they unloaded it without any difficulty at 
alL Robert Sh^rringham also deposeth against 
Rose Cullender, that about two years since, passing 
along the street with his cart and horses, the axle- 
tree of his cart touched her house, and broke down 
some i)art of it, at which she was very much dis- 
pleased, threatening him that his horses should 
suffer for it, and so it happened, for all those horses, 
being four in number, died within a short time 
after ; since that time he hath had great losses by 
sudden dying of his other cattle ; so soon as his 
sows pigged, the pigs would leap and caper, and 
immediately fall down and dia Also, not long 


after, he was taken with a lameness in his limbs 
that he could neither go nor stand for some dajs. 
After all this, he was rerj much vexed with a great 
number of lice of an extraordinary bigness, and 
although he many times shifted himself, jet he was 
not anything the better, but would swarm again 
with them ; so that in the conclusion he was forced 
to bum all his clothes, being two suits of apparel, 
and then was clean from thent'' 

This was the kind of evidence brought forward 
in a public court of justice in the year 1664,. in a 
trial which has obtained especial celebrity from the 
circumstance that the lord chief baron who pre- 
sided over it was the gi*eat lawyer, sir Matthew 
Hale. Yet even he was not exempt from the su- 
perstitious feeling of his own age, and the cau- 
tiously-worded declaration in his charge to the 
jury, — " that there were such creatures as witches 
he made no doubt at all ; for first the Scriptures 
had affirmed so much ; secondly, the wisdom of all 
nations had provided laws against such persons, 
which is an argument of their confidence of such a 
crime, and such hath been the judgment of this 
kingdom, as appears by that act of parliament 
which hath provided punishments proportionable to 
the quality of the offence'' — ^was considered as a 
public declaration of the judge's opinion in favour 
of the witchcraft prosecutions. The jury retired, 
passed half an hour in deliberation, and returned 
with an unanimous verdict against the prisoners. 
Sir Matthew Hale interfered no further, but pro- 
ceeded on his circuit ; and the two poor widows of 

II .. _ .»■«» LJ1. '9 L.^— J **- 


Lowestoff were hanged on the following Monday, 
They persisted to the last in asserting their inno- 

The trial before sir Matthew Hale had a great 
influence in increasing the number of trials for the 
crime of sorcery under the restoration, although 
the return of the Stuarts seemed from the first to 
have brought back some of the spirit which had 
been spread in England by the first of their race 
who came to the throne. Among other rather ridi- 
culous cases, it will be sufficient to instance that of 
Julian Coxe, a wretched old woman, who, in the pre- 
ceding year, had been convicted and hanged at Taun- 
ton in Somersetshire, on the evidence of a huntsman, 
who declared that, having given chase to a hare, it was 
lost in a bush, and that on examining the spot, he 
found on the other side of the bush this woman in 
such an attitude and condition as convinced him that 
he had been hunting a witch who had taken the 
opportunity of the shelter afforded by the bush to 
regain her own shape. In the same year that wit- 
nessed the trial before sir Matthew Hale at Bury, 
a justice of the peace in Somersetshire, named 
Hunt, was ambitious of becoming another witch- 
finder-general, and had already put twelve persons 
under arrest, when a stop was put on his proceed- 
ings by the interference of a higher authority. In 
1679, a witch condemned at Ely was saved by a re- 
prieve from the king, and her accuser is said to 
have subsequently avowed his imposture, yet three 
years afterwards the city of Exeter witnessed the 
execution of three witches under circumstances well 
calculated to expose the absurdity of such charges. 

N 5 


Seaport towns appear to have been rather fire* 
quently the haunts of witches, and the scenes of 
some of their more extraordinary operations^ At 
the town of Biddeford on the coast of Devon dwelt 
three women, named Temperance Lloyd, Ifary 
Trembles, and Susanna Edwards, who seem to 
have enjoyed a character similar to that of Aioy 
Duny and Rose Cullender at Lowestofi^ and they 
were arrested and carried prisoners to Exeter in 
the summer of 1682. One of the persons who ac- 
cused them was a mariner's wife named Dorcas 
Cloleman, who said that in the year 1680 she had 
been taken with '^ tormenting pains by prickling in 
her arms, stomach, and heart, in such a manner as 
she was never taken so before/' She applied to 
one doctor Beare, a professed physician, who told 
her it was past his skill to save her, inasmuch as 
she was bewitched. We thus see, what has indeed 
occurred often before, how unskilful physicians, in 
the attempt to conceal their own ignorance, added 
to and strengthened the prejudices of the vulgar. 
Dorcas Coleman had no suspicion of the person 
that had bewitched her, until Susanna Edwards 
was thrown into prison, and then she went to her 
to ask if she were her persecutor, and received an 
answer in the affirmative. Another woman of Bid- 
deford, named Grace Thomas, was attacked some- 
what in the same manner, and declared that as 
soon as Temperance Lloyd was committed to prison, 
she ^' immediately felt her pricking and sticking 
pains to cease and abate.'' Upon this one of the 
friends of Grace Thomas ^^ did demand of the said 
Temperance Lloyd whether she had any wai^ or 



clay in the form of a picture whereby she had 
pricked and tormented the said Grace Thomas ; 
unto which the said Temperance made answer, that 
she had no wax nor clay, but confessed that she 
had only a piece of leather which she had pricked 
nine times." Temperance Lloyd was searched, and . 
they found on her body two " teats," which she 
confessed had been sucked by ^' the black man \" 
and one of the searchers, who i^ an acquaintaiice 
of the accused, declared that on the morning of the 
preceding Thursday, "she, this informant, did see 
something in the shape of a magpie to come at the 
chamber window where the said Grrace Thomas 
did lodge. Upon which this informant did demand 
of the said Temperance Lloyd whether she did 
know of any bird to come and flutter at the said 
window ; unto which question the said Temperance 
did then say that it was the black man in the 
shape of the bird." Having obtained thus much 
of foundation to build upon, the account of the 
black man was soon amplified, and "being de- 
manded of what stature the said black man was," 
she was prevailed upon te describe him as being 
" about the length of her arm ; and that his eyes 
were very big ; and that he hopped or leaped in the 
way before her." The very picture, in fact, of a 
" puck^' or hobgoblin. 

It is hardly necessary to enter further into the 
rather numerous depositions made on this occasion. 
A piece of leather was found, in which tne prose- 
cutors and judges " conceived there might be some ' 
^ichantment ;" a child's doll was also produced, 

276 SOBOVET AITD luaiG. 

■wliicli it was further itnagined might have faten 
pricked vith pins ; it was deposed tl^t TempeTanec 
JJojd bad appeared in the form of a red pig to a 
woman while she was brewing ; and npon this evi- 
dence, and more of the same description, the thre« 
women were convicted by the jury, and they w«re 
all hanged at Exeter. When these wretched womea 
were on the scaffold, they were again tormented 
with questions, and returned such answers as might 
be expected from persons in a condition that they 
hardly knew what they were asked or what they 
said in reply. Among other things, Temperance 
Lloyd was asked, " How did you come in to hurt 
Mrs. Grace Thomas ? did you pass throu^ the key- 
hole of the door, or was the door open ? 

" Temp. The devil did lead me up-stairs, and 
the door was open : and this is all the hurt I 

" Q. How do you know it was the devil ? 

" Temp. I knew it by his eyes. 

" Q. Had yon no discourse or treaty with him I 

" Temp. Ko ; he said I should go along with 
him to destroy a woman, and I told him I would 
not ; he said he would make me ; and then the 
devil beat me about the head. 

" Q. Why had you not called upon God / 

" Temp. He would not let me do it. 

" Q. You say you never hurt ships nor boats- 
did you never ride over -an aim of the sea on a 

" Temp. No, no, master, 'twas she {meaning 


- Another interrogator, equally unfeeling, closed 
the scene with asking the victim if she had never 
seen the devil but once. 

** Temp, Yes, once before ; I was going for 
brooms, and he came to me and said, ' that poor 
woman has a great burthen,' and would help and 
ease me of my burthen ; and I said, ' The Lord 
had enabled me to carry it so far, and I hope I 
shall be able to carry it further/ 

" Q. Did the devil never promise you any- 
thing ? 

" Temp, No, never. 

" Q, Then you have served a very bad master, 
who gave you nothing. Well, consider you are 
just departing from this world; do you believe 
there is a God ? 

''Temp, Yes. 

" Q. Do you believe in Jesus Christ ? 

" Temp, Yes ; and I pray Jesus Christ to pardon 
all my sins. And so was executed," 

These three women are said to have been the last 
persons who were executed in England for the crime 
of witchcraft A great change in opinion on this 
subject was now taking place in the minds of re- 
flecting people. The vice of the court of Charles 11/ 
was scepticism rather than credulity, and although 
bigotry and superstition again appeared under the 
influence of his brother, their reign was of short du- 
ration. Two books were published during this 
period which certainly had some influence in breaks 
ing the strength of the popular prejudice on the 
subject. The first of these was a small volume by a 
gentleman of education named John Wagstaffe, 


which appeared in 1669, under the title of '* The 
Question of Witchcraft Debated'" In the opening 
of this workWagstaffe expresses in strong terms his 
horror at ihe multitudes of human beings who had 
been during so many ages sacrificed to ^ this idd, 
Opinion ;" and he protests against the " evil and 
base custom of torturing people to confess them*- 
selves witches, and burning them after extorted 
confessiona Surely the blood of men ought not to 
be so cheap, nor so easily to be shed by those who, 
under the name of God, do gratify exorbitant pas- 
sions and selfish ends ; for without question, under 
this side heaven, there is nothing so sacred as the 
life of man, for the preservation whereof all policies 
and forms of government, all laws and magistrates 
are most especially ordained"" Wagstaffe's book was 
replied to in a tone of flippant self-sufficiency by 
Meric Casaubon, in a treatise published in the follow- 
ing year under the title of, " Of Credulity and In 
credulity in Things Divine and SpirituaL"' 

A still greater champion soon afterwards stepped 
into the field of controversy thus opened This was 
John Webster, a native of Lancashire, the same 
whom we have already seen in his youth oppbsing 
in vain the imposture of the boy of Pendle. Webster 
had lived, a careful observer, throughout the whole 
period of the great witchcraft mania in England, 
and now in his old age he published his matured 
judgment on the subject which had so long agitated 
men's minds, under the title which at once indi- 
cated the view he took of it, of " The Displaying of 
supposed Witchcraft"' This stately folio appeared 
in the year 1677, and there can be little doubtof its 

. J--" - r— • « ■ I ■ I ■*! ■■*■" " *■ " S * : 


hating made a strong impression on the succeeding 
generation. Webster attacked with all the force of 
argument and wit the superstition to which so many 
viotims had been sacrificed, and he exposed the fal- 
lacies by which it had been sustained. He made no 
concessions to public opinion, like most of those 
who preceded him on the same side of the question, 
and who were afraid to push too far the reasons on 
which they rested their cause ; but he boldly pub- 
lished the opinion that witchcraft was nothing but 
a Vulgar error, and that all the instances which had 
occurred and which had led to such a fearful de- 
struction of human life, were founded only in deli- 
berate imposture, in statements made under fear of 
torture, in mental delusion, or in, natural pheno- 
mena which were easily explained by science and 
reason without the necessity of calling in superna- 
tural causes. 

Books like these were chiefly calculated to influ- 
ence the educated part of society, and we soon per- 
ceiye their effects in the courts of justice. After 
the revolution of eighty-eight, there seems to have 
been a strong tendency to renew the persecution 
against witches, but sir Matthew Hale had been 
succeeded by a judge of no less weight and talent^ 
who was in this respect at least more enlightened — 
the lord chief justice Holt. Three women were 
thrown into prison in 1691 for bewitching a person 
near Frome, in Somersetshire, of whom one died be- 
fore she was brought to trial ; but the other two, 
having chief justice Holt for their judge, were acquit- 
ted. This case seems to have been the first check put 
upon the courts of law; and the populace, disappointed 


of what they called justice, had recourse, without ap* 
pealingtothe law, to the old popular trial of swimming^ 
the persons suspected, of which there were numerous 
instances during this and the following year in the 
counties of Essex, Suffolk, Cambridge, and North- 
ampton. Some of the patients died under the inflic- 
tion. The scene of the labours of Matthew Hopkins 
seems to have retained its witch-persecuting cele- 
brity. In 1693, one widow Chambers of Upaston in 
Suffolk, who is described by Dr. Hutchinson as ** a 
diligent industrious poor woman," died in Beccles 
jail in consequence of the treatment she had expe- 
rienced. She had been walked between two men, 
according to the celebrated plan of the witch-finder 
Hopkins, and was thus drawn to confess a number 
of absurdities, such as the bewitching to death of 
persons who were then living and in good health. 
In the year following, another poor woman named 
mother Munnings, of Hartis in Suffolk, was tried 
before the lord chief justice Holt at Bury St. Ed- 
munds ; many things were deposed concerning her, 
such as spoiling of wort, and hurting cattle, and it 
was stated that several persons upon their death-beds 
had complained that she killed them. It was fur- 
ther deposed, that her landlord, Thomas Pennel, 
wishing to force her out of a house she had of him, 
took away the door, and left her without one. Some 
time after, she said to him as he passed by the door, 
" Go thy way, thy nose shall lie upward in the 
church-yard before Saturday next.'' On the Mon- 
day following we are assured he sickened, and died 
on Tuesday, and was buried within the week, ac- 
cording to her word. To confirm this, it was added 


CttlEF JtrSTICfi HOLT. 281 

by another witness, that a doctor whom they had 
consulted about an afflicted person, when mother 
Mannings was mentioned, said she was a dangerous 
woman, for she could " touch the Kne of life/' In 
her indictment, she was charged with having an 
imp like a pole-cat ; and one witness deposed, that 
coming from the alehouse about nine at night, he 
looked in at her window, and saw her take out of 
her basket two imps, one black the other white. It 
was also deposed, that one Sarah Wager, after a 
quarrel with this woman, was taken dumb and 
lame, and was in that condition at home at the 
time of the trial. Many other such things were 
sworn, but in consequence of the charge from the 
judge, the jury brought her in not guUty. Dr. Hutch- 
inson, who obtained the notes of this trial through 
chief justice Holt himself, adds on this statement, 
" Upon particular inquiry of several in or near the 
town, I find most are satisfied that it was a very 
right judgment. She lived about two years after, 
without doing any known harm to anybody, and 
died declaring her innocence. Her landlord was a 
consumptive spent man, and the words not exactly 
as they swore them, and the whole thing seventeen 
years before. For by a certificate from the register, 
I find he was buried June 20, 1667. The white imp 
is believed to have been a lock of wool, taken out of 
her basket to spin, and its shadow it is supposed 
was the black one/' 

The same year, a woman of the name of Margaret 
Elmore was tried at Ipswich before the lord chief 
justice Holt She was accused of having^ bewitched 
one Mrs. Rudge of that town, who was three years 

282 80ECBBY AND MAQia 

in a languishing condition, because, as it was al'- 
leged, Mr. Rudge, the husband of the afflicted pafson^ 
had refused to let her a house. Some witnesses 
said that Mrs. Rudge was better upon the confine- 
ment of the woman, and worse again when her 
chains were o£ Other witnesses gave an account, 
that her grandmother and her aunt had formerly 
been hanged for witches, and that her grandmother 
had said she had ei£^ht or nine imps, and that she 
had giyen two or tl^e imps a-piece to her chOdren. 
This grave accusation was considered to be fuUj 
confirmed, when a midwife who had searched Mar- 
garet Elmor's grandmother, who had been hanged, 
said, this woman had plainer marks than she. 
Others deposed to their being covered with lice after 
quarrels with her. But notwithstanding these de- 
positions, the jury brought her in not guilty, " and," 
says Dr. Hutchinson, ^^ though I have made parti- 
cidar inquiry, I do not hear of any ill consequence." 
In 1695, Mary Guy was tried before the lord 
chief justice Holt at Launceston in Cornwall, for 
supposed witchcraft upon a girl named Philadelphia 
Row. It was deposed, that the aqpearance of the 
said Mary Gruy was often seen by the girl, and that 
she vomited pins, straws, and feathers ; but notwith- 
standing such depositions, the prisoner was ac- 
quitted. One Elizabeth Homer] was tried before 
the same intelligent judge at Exeter, in 1696, for 
bewitching three children of William Bovet, one of 
whom was dead. It was deposed, that another had 
her legs twisted, and yet from her hands and knees 
she would spring five feet higL The children vo- 
mited pins, and were bitten, (if the depositions were 




true^) and pricked, and pinched, the marks ap- 
pearing ; the children said, Bess Horner's head 
would come off from her body, and go into their bel- 
lies ; the mother of the children deposed, that one 
of them walked up a smooth plastered wall, to the 
heusht of nine feet, her head standing off from 
itTthis, she said, she did five or six times, and 
laughed and said, Bess Homer held her up. This 
poor woman had something like a nipple on her 
shoulder, which the children said was sucked by a 
toad. Many other strange things were asserted by 
different witnesses ; but the jury brought her in 
not guilty, ^'and no inconvenience hath followed 
from her acquittal."' 

28 It 



As Satan found that, beaten hj the force of public 
opinion, he was losing his hold on the mother coun- 
try, he seemed resolved to fix a firmer grasp upon 
her distant colonies, and the new world presented 
at this moment a scene which exemplifies the hor- 
rors and the absurdities of the witchcraft persecu- 
tions more than anything that had occurred in the 
old world 

New England, or, as it has been since called, 
Massachusetts, was essentially a religious — a puri- 
tanical settlement One of the congregations of the 
English presbyterians who sought refuge in Holland 
from the intolerance of James L, finding their posi- 
tion there uneasy, came to the resolution of esta- 
blishing themselves in the wilds of north America, 
where they could worship the Almighty after their 
own convictions, unseen and untroubled by those 
who differed from them. They made arrangements 
for settling in the English colony of Virginia^ and 


set sail for America in 1618, but carried out of their 
course by stress of weather and other causes, they 
arrived on a coast more to the north, on which no 
settlement had hitherto been made. In the last 
days of the year they laid the foundations of the 
first town in New England, to which they gave the 
name of Plymouth. They formed an alliance with 
an Indian chief by whom this territory had been 
previously occupied, a great part of whose tribe had 
been carried off by the small-pox, and who was glad 
of their support against the hostile tribes of Nar- 
raghansetts. Several other settlements were subse- 
quently attempted on this coast, but the settlers 
were ill-fitted for amalgamating with the puritans 
of New Plymouth or to struggle with the difficulties 
they had encountered, and they therefore soon aban- 
doned their enterprize. Under Charles I. the reli- 
gious emigration from England was greatly increased, 
and the old settlers on these distant shores were 
soon joined by multitudes of friends who shared in 
their principles and feelings. Some of these fpunded, 
in 1628, the town of Salem. Soon afterwards 
Boston was founded, which became at once the 
principal town of Massachusetts bay. From the pe- 
culiar constitution of this singular colony, it became 
as intolerant as it was religious, and its earlier his- 
tory presents us with frequent instances of persecu- 
tion for the sake of conscientious convictions. Re- 
ligious discussions here took the place of political 
dispute^ and disturbed from time to time the peace 
of the infant colony. A school having been founded 
at a small town called Newtown, it was erected into a 
university in 1638, and named Haward College, from 

288 SOBOEBT Ain> HAGia 

which stmck the colonists with no little dismay 
A mason of that town, named John Goodwin, who 
had six children, was in the habit of employing as 
a washerwoman one of his neighbours named 
Glover, an Irishwoman and a papist, neither of 
them any great recommendation in the state of New 
England. About the midsummer of the year last- 
mentioned, some linen having been missed, Good- 
win's wife accused the woman of theft, on which 
she became angry and abusive, and used cross lan- 
guage to one of the children, a little girl. Imme- 
diately afterwards, this girl was seized with fits and 
strange afflictions, which soon communicated them- 
selves to three of her sisters. The Irishwoman fell 
under suspicion, and was arrested, and in her exa- 
mination she answered so incoherently, and with 
such a strange mixture of Irish and broken English, 
that she was soon brought in guilty, and the so- 
lemnity of the examination and execution made, a 
deep impression on the minds of the people of 

There were in that town two ministers, (fadier 
and son,) who, for many reasons, held a distin- 
guished ^lace among the clergy of New England, 
and their opinions were looked up to with the 
utmost respect. These were Increase and Cotton 
Mather, the first principal, and the second a fellow 
of Haward College. These men seem to have 
studied deeply the doctrines on the subject of witch- 
craft which had so long been held in Europe, and 
to have been fully convinced of their truth. Cotton 
Mather was called in to witness the afflictions with 
which Goodwin's children were visited, and npt 

' ^ • ^ •f-^^ , ^ m nn » _ i 1 ^1 __iiJ iri 


content with what he saw there, he took the girl 
whose visitations seemed most extraordinary to his 
own home, that he might examine her more 
leisurely, and he has left us a printed account of his 
observations; It appears that some of the stories of 
European witchcraft had been impressed on her 
mind, for when in her fits she believed that the 
witches came for her with a horse on which she 
,rode to their meetings. Sometimes, in the presence 
of a number of persons, she would suddenly fall 
into a sort of trance, and then she would jumpinto 
a chair, and placing herself in a riding posture, move 
as if she were successively ambling, trotting, and 
gallopping. At the same time she would talk with 
invisible company, that seemed to go with her, and 
she would listen to their answers. After continuing 
in this way two or three minutes, she seemed to 
think herself at a meeting of the witches, a great 
distance from the house where she was sitting ; then 
she would return again on her imaginary horse, and 
come to herself again ; and on one occasion she told 
Cotton Mather of three persons she had seen at the 
meeting. Dr. Mather's simplicity, to say the least, 
was shown by the sort of experiments he made on 
this fantastical patient. When she was in her fits, 
and therefore under the influence of Satan, she 
read or listened to bad books with pleasure, but 
good books threw her into convulsions. He tried 
her with the Bible, the Assembly's Catechism, his 
grandfather Cotton Mather's " Milk for Babes," and 
his father Increase's " Remarkable Providences," 
with a treatise written to prove the reality of witch- 
craft, and the existence of witches. These good 



books, Ootton Uather tells ub, " vere mortal to Ii6r," 
they threw her into trances and convulBious. Next 
he tried her vith books of a different character, 
Bucb ae quaken' books, (the quakers were lo^ed 
upon with a very evil eye in New En^^d,) 
popish books, the Cambridge and Oxford Jests, a 
Prayer-book, (against which the puritans alwa^ 
professed the greatest hostility,) and a book writt^i 
to proTe that there were no witches. These the 
deril let her read as long as she liked, and he showed 
particular respect to the Prayer-book, even allowing 
her to read the passages of scripture in it, ahhoagh 
he threw her into the most dreadful sufferings if 
she attempted to read the same texts in the 

Dr. Cotton Mather gave the world a full account 
of this case in a little book entitled, " Late memo- 
rable Providences relating to Witchcraft and Pos- 
session," in which he also collected together a few 
other cases of witchcraft in New England, which 
show that there was already a strung excitement 
abroad on the subject This he increased by repeat- 
ing to the colonists the details of the trial before 



A Mr. Paris had been for some years minister of 
Salem village. He appears to have been on indif- 
ferent terms with his parishioners, on account of 
some disputes relating to the house and land he oc- 
cupied as their minister, of which he had obtained 
a gift in fee simple. Towards the end of February 
of 1692, some young persons in his family, and 
some others of their neighbours, began to act after 
a strange manner, creeping into holes and under 
chairs and stools, using antic gestures, uttering ridi- 
culous speeches, and falling into fits. The physi- 
cians were consulted, but they were unable to dis- 
cover the nature of the disorder, or to effect a cure, 
ftnd they declared their belief that they were be- 
witched. Mr. Paris had an Indian man and woman 
— ^the latter named Tituba — as servants in his 
house, and they, with Mr. Paris's consent, made an 
enchanted cake, according to the custom of their 
tribes, and this being given to a dog belonging to 
the family, was to enable the persons afflicted to 
declare who had bewitched them. The result wa^ 
that they accused the two Indians, and the woman 
confessed herself guilty, and was thrown into prison : 
she was subsequently sold to pay the prison fees. 
Several private fasts were now held in the house of 
Mr. Paris, and a public fast was directed throughout 
the colony, to avert God's wrath. 

Bing visited and noticed, the children and others 
afflicted proceeded to other denunciations, and other 
persons exhibited similar fits and contortions. At 
fiist they ventured only on accusing poor women, 
who were of ill-repute in the place, and they talked 
of a black man who urged them to sign ,a book, 



which they said was red, very thick, and about a 
cubit long. They were gradually encouraged to ac^ 
case persons of a more respectable position in life, 
and among the first of these were goodwife Cory and 
goodwife Nurse, menj^ers of the churches at Salem 
village and Salem town. On the 21st of March 
goodwife Cory was subjected to a solemn examina- 
tion in the meeting-house of the village. Ten 
afilicted persons accused her of tormenting them. 
They said that in their fits they saw her likeness 
coming with a book for them to sign. She earnestly 
asserted her innocence, and represented that they 
were poor distracted creatures, who knew not what 
they were saying. Upon this they declared, " that 
the black man whispered to her in her ear now, 
(while she was upon examination,) and that she 
had a yellow bird, that did use to suck between 
her fingers, and that the said bird did suck now in 
the assembly.* Order being given to look in that 
place to see if there were any sign, the girl that pre- 
tended to see it said that it was too late now, for 
she had removed a pin, and put it on her head. 
It was upon search found that a pin was there stick- 

* These yellow birds — ^perhaps canaries — form a peculiar 
feature of witchcraft in New England. " In sermon time, 
when goodwife 0. was present in the meeting-house, Abigail 
Williams called out, * look where goodwife C. sits on the beam 
suckling her yellow bird betwixt her fingers !* Anne Pitman^ 
another girl afflicted, said, ' there was a yellow bird sat on my 
liat as it hung on the pin in the pulpit;' but those that were 
by restrainad her fVom speaking loud about it." Increase Ma- 
ther's ♦* Further Account of the New England Witches," 



ing upright When the accused had any motion of 
her body, hands, or mouth, the accusers would 
cry out ; as when she bit her lip, they would cry out 
of being bitten ; if she grasped one hand with the 
other, they would cry out of being pinched by her, 
and would produce marks ; so of the other motions 
of her body, as complaining of being pressed, when 
she leaned to the seat next her ; if she stirred her 
feet, they would stamp and cry out of pain there. 
After the hearing, the said Cory was committed to 
Salem prison, and then their crying out of her 

On the 24th of March goodwife Nurse was sud- 
denly examined before the ministers and magis- 
trates in the meeting-house, with the same result 
A child between four and five years old was now 
also committed. The accusers said that this child 
came invisibly, and bit them, and they would show 
the marks of small teeth on their arms to corrobo- 
rate the statement ; and when the child cast its 
eye upon th^em, they immediately cried out that 
they were in torment 

The number of accusers and accused now in- 
creased fast, and some of the latter, as the only 
means of saving themselves, made confessions, and 
accused others They all spoke of a black man, 
and some described him as resembling an Indian, a 
circumstance we can easily understand. We are 
told by one of the historians of these events of a 
converted Indian, who was' a zealous preacher of 
the Gospel among his countrymen ; " being a little 
before he died at work in the wood making of tar, 
there appeared unto him a black man, of a terrible 



aspect and more than human dimensions, thi^ten^ 
ing bitterly to kill him, if he would not promise to 
leave off preaching to his countrTmen." This is 
said to hare occurred just before the events I am 
now relating ; the black man of the confessions was 
of ordinary stature, but he made no secret of his 
design to destroy the Christian settlement, and he 
held meetings of his converts — those who had 
signed his book — where they had mock ceremonies 
and participated in a mock sacrament One of tiie 
accused, who saved himself by confessing, told how 
the devil appeared " in the shape of a black man, 
in the evening, to set my name to his book, as I 
have owned to my shame ; he told me that I should 
not want, so doing. At Salem village, there 
being, a little off the meeting-house, about a hun- 
dred fine blades, some with rapiers by their sides, 

and the trumpet sounded, and bread and 

wine, which they called the sacrament ; but i had 
none, being carried over all on a stick, and never 
was present at any othet meeting/' — " The design 
was to destroy Salem village, and to begin at the 
minister's house, and to destroy the churches of 
God, and to set up Satan's kingdom, and then all 
will be well/' 

The ministers and magistrates went on with 
their fastings and examinyigs, as the number of 
persons accused increased, until, on the 11th of 
April, there was a grand public hearing at Salem 
before six magistrates and several ministers. One 
goodwife Procter was among the persons accused 
on this occasion. Her husband attended to assist 
and advise her, and when he took her part, the 

la y , , . ^ .. J^ wa. i^ 


aecusers " cried out on him/' and both were accord- 
ingly committed. 

On the 1 4th of May, 1 692, sir William Phipps 
arrived) bringing with him the new charter of the 
colony. Instead of being the harbinger of peace by 
importing the liberal principles which were now 
gaining ground in England, the new governor 
either shared in the prejudices of the colonists, or 
wished to gain popularity among them by appear- 
ing to do so, and he ordered all the prisoners who 
were charged with witchcraft to be thrown into 
chains. Upon this the afflicted persons are said to 
have been in general relieved from their tortures. 
The accusations were now multiplied, and people 
of the greatest respectability in society became sub- 
ject to the denunciations of the afflicted. On the 
24jth of May, a Mrs. Gary of Charlestown, having 
been accused by some of the girls and an Indian, 
was arrested and brought before the ministers and 
magistrates for examination. Her husband went 
with her, to support her in her trials, and we have 
his account of the manner in which the examina- 
tion was carried on. " Being brought before the 
justices," he says, "her chief accusers were two 
girls. My wife declared to the justices that she 
never had any knowledge of them before that day. 
She was forced to stand with her arms stretched 
out. I did request that I might hold one of her 
hands, but it was denied me. Then she desired 
me to wipe the tears from her eyes and the sweat 
from her face, which I did. Then she desired she 
might lean herself on me, saying she should faint. 
Justice Hathorn replied, she had strength enough 

296 sosoB&T Ajn> hagto. 

to torment those persons^ and she should have 
strength enough to stand. I speaking something 
against their cruel proceedings, thej commanded 
me to be silent, or else I should be turned out of 
the room. The Indian before mentioned was also 
brought in to be one of her accusers ; being come 
in, he now (when before the justices) fell down and 
tumbled about like a hog, but said nothing. The 
justices asked the girls, who afflicted the Indian. 
They answered, ' she,' (meaning my wife,) and now 
lay upon him ; the justices ordered her to touch 
him, in order to his cure, but her head must be 
turned another way, lest instead of ciuring she 
should make him worse by her looking on him, her 
hand being guided to take hold of his ; but the 
Indian took hold on her hand, and pulled her down 
on the floor, in a barbarous manner ; then his hand 
was taken ofi^, and her hand put on his, and the 
cure was quickly wrought.'' 

When this man proceeded to expostulate in fa- 
vour of his wife, he only provoked the court by his 
interference, and the afflicted were ready to " cry 
out '' against him. Both, however, succeeded in 
making their escape ; and they proceeded to Rhode 
Island, and thence to New York. The prosecutors 
now adopted some of the modes of trial which they 
learnt from the printed books that had been im- 
ported from England, such as making the accused 
say the Lord's Prayer, and searching for teats. 
One of the latter was said to have been found on 
the person of goodwife Bishop. On the 81st of 
May the accusers struck a step higher, and " cried 
out" upon a sea-captain of Boston named John 

m,-f^a n i| _y i H » 


Aldin, who was brought to Salem for examination. 
He asked his accusers, " Why they should think 
that he should come to that village to afflict those 
persons that he never knew or saw before T But 
he found expostulation vain, and he was comtnitted 
to prison in Boston. The jaUor, however, began to 
treat his prisoners with less rudeness, and after a 
long imprisonment, captain Aldin escaped, perhaps 
with the jailor's connivance. 

On the 2nd of June a special commission was 
opened at Salem for the trial of the offenders. The 
depositions were many of them of such an extraor- 
dinary character, that we cannot be surprised at 
being told that on the fifteenth of the same month 
governor Phipps found it necessary to consult with 
the ministers of Boston, and that he was advised by 
them to proceed with caution. Five days before, 
Bridget Bishop had been hanged, which was the 
first of this series of executions. 

The actors in this tragedy began, as I have 
already intimated, by accusing persons who were 
already despised and disliked by their neighbours, 
whose ears therefore were open to any charges 
against them. Bridget Bishop, the first woman 
executed, and Susanna Martin, who was condemned 
about the same time, belonged to this class, and, to 
judge by the extraordinary depositions on their 
trials, both had been for some time regarded as 
dangerous individuals. One of the " afflicted '" 
stated that ** the shape " of the prisoner appeared 
to her frequently, and bit, pricked, and otherwise 
tormented lier. Another testified, " that it was the 
shape of this prisoner (Bishop) with another, which 

o 5 


one day took her from her wheel, and carried her to 
the river side, threatening there to drown her if dhe 
did not sign the book/' It is added, " one DeliTer- 
ance Hobbes, who had confessed her being a witch^ 
was n6w tormented by the spectres for her confes- 
sion. . And she now testified, that this Bishop 
tempted her to sign the book again, and to deny 
what she had confessed. She affirmed that it was 
the shape of this prisoner which whipped her with 
iron rods to compel her thereunto. And she af- 
finned that this Bishop was at a general meeting of 
the witches, in a field at Salem village, and there 
partook of a diabolical sacrament in bread and 
wine there administered." Several persons stated 
that they had been disturbed in their beds by noc- 
turnal visits of the " shape " of Bishop ; and one 
man complained of her for bewitching his sow. 

Other witnesses accused Bridget Bishop of still 
mcnre extraordinary pranks, such, for example, as 
that recounted by one John Louder, who deposed, 
" that upon some little controversy with Bishop 
about her fowls going well to bed, he did awake in 
the night by moonlight, and did see clearly the 
likeness of this woman grievously oppressing him ; 
in which miserable condition she held him, unable 
to help himself, till near day. He told Bishop of 
this ; but she denied it, and threatened him very 
much. Quickly after this, being at home on a 
Lord's day, with the doors shut about him, he saw 
a black pig approach him ; at which he going to 
kick, it vanished away. Immediately after, sitting 
down, he saw a black thing jump in at the window, 
and come and stand before him. The body was 


like that of a monkey, the feet like a cock's, but 
the face much like that of a man's. He being so 
extremely affrighted that he could not speak, this 
monster spoke to him, and said, ' I am a messenger 
sent unto you, for I understand that you are in 
some trouble of mind, and if you will be ruled by 
me, you shall want for nothing in this world.' 
Whereupon he endeavoured to clap his hands upon 
it ; but he could feel no substance ; and it jumped 
out of the window again ; but immediately came in 
by the porch, though the doors were shut, and said, 
* You had better take my counsel T He then 
struck at it with a stick, but struck only the 
groundsel, and broke the stick. The arm with 
which he struck was presently disenabled, artd it 
vanished away. He presently went out at the back 
door, and spied this Bishop in her orchard going 
towards her house, but he had no power to set one 
foot forward unto her. Whereupon, returning into 
the house, he was immediately accosted by the 
monster he had seen before ; which goblin was now 
going to fly at him ; whereat he cried out, * The 
whole armour of God be between me and you.' So 
it sprang back, and flew over the apple-tree, shak- 
ing qtany apples of the tree in its flying over. At 
its leap it flung dirt with its feet against the sto- 
mach of the man ; whereupon he was then struck 
dumb, and so continued for three days together." 

As to Susanna Martin, who was also accused of 
paying visits to people through their chamber win- 
dows, a man named Bernard Peache deposed in 
court, " that being in bed, on the Lord's day at 
nighty he heard a scrabbling at the window, whereat 


he then saw Susanna Martin come in and jump 
down upon the floor. She took hold of this dqpo* 
nent's foot, and drawing his body into a hei^, she 
lay upon him near, two hours, in all which time he 
could neither speak nor stir. At length, when he 
could begin to move, he laid hold on her hand, and 
pulling it up to his mouth, he bit some of her 
fingers, as he judged, unto the bone. Whereupon 
she went ftom the chamber, down stairs, out at 
the door. This deponent thereupon' called out to 
the people of the house, to advise them of what had 
passed ; and he himself did follow her. The people 
saw her not, but there being a bucket at the left 
hand of the door, there was a drop of blood found 
upon it, and several more drops of blood upon the 
snow newly fallen abroad. There was likewise the 
print of her two feet just without the threshold, 
but no more sign of any footing further on. At 
another time this deponent was desired by the 
prisoner to come unto a husking of corn at her 
house, and she said if he did not come it were 
better that he did. He went not ; but the night 
following Susanna Martin, as he judged, and an- 
other came towards him. One of then said, ' Here 
he is/ but he having a quarter-staff, made a^blow 
at them. The roof of the barn broke his blow, but 
following them to the window, he made another 
blow at them, and struck them down ; yet they got 
up and got out, and he saw no more of them. 
About this time there was a rumour about the town 
that Martin had a broken head, but the deponent 
could say nothing to that."' Another neighbour, 
whose name was John Eembal, stated that, '^ being 

■• lip JW^i^»l^«PWiWW«»»'"«»^i"i"^w»>^^^'W>iii-^"i^^wpilWiWiP"iiWH«»IW 


desirous to furnish himself with a dog, he applied 
himself to buy one of this Martin, who had a bitch 
with whelps in her house. But she not letting him 
hare his choice, he said he would apply himself 
then at one Blezdel's. Having marked a puppy 
which he liked at Blezdel's, he met George Martin, 
the husband of the prisoner, going by, who asked 
him whether he would not have one of his wife's 
puppies, and he answered no. The same day, one 
Edward Elliot, being at Martin's house, heard 
George Martin relate where this Eembal had been, 
and what he had said. Whereupon Susanna Martin 
replied, ' If I live I'll give him puppies enough.' 
Within a few days after this, Kembal coming out of 
the woods, there arose a little black cloud in the 
north-west, and Eembal immediately felt a force 
upon him, which made him not able to avoid run- 
ning upon stumps of trees that were before him, 
albeit he had a broad plain cart way before him ; 
but though he had his axe also on his shoulder to 
endanger him in his falls, he could not forbear 
going out of his way to tumble over them. When 
he came below the meeting-house, there appeared 
to him a little thing like a puppy, of a darkish 
colour, and it shot backwards and forwards between 
his legs. He had the courage to use all possible 
endeavours of cutting it with his axe, but he could 
not hit it ; the puppy gave a jump from him, and 
went, as to him it seemed, into the ground. Going 
a little further, there appeared unto him a black 
puppy, somewhat bigger than the first, but as black 
as a cole. Its motions were quicker than those of 
^his axe ; it flew at his belly, and away ; then at his 



throat; so over his shoulder one way, aad tliexi 
oyer his shoulder another way. His heart n.i>'w 
b^gan to fail him, and he thought the dog i^oxild 
have tore his throat out ; but he recovered himself 
and called upon God in his distress, and naming^ th^e 
name of Jesus Christ, it vanished away at once.^^ 
Another witness, John Pressy, declared "that being 
one evening very unaccountably bewildered, near a 
field of Martin's, and several times, as one under 
an enchantment, returning to the place he had left, 
at length he saw a marvellous light, about the big- 
ness of a half-bushel, near two rods out of the way. 
He gave it near forty blows, and felt it a palpable 
substance. But going from it, his heels were struck 
up, and he was laid with his back on the ground, 
sliding, as he thought, into a pit, from whence he 
recovered by taking hold on the bush ; although 
afterward Ke could find no such pit in the place. 
Having, after his r^nery, gone five or six rods, he 
saw Susanna Martin standing on his left hand, as 
the light had done before; but they changed no 
words with one another. The next day it was 
upon inquiry understood that Martin was in a mi- 
serable condition by pains and hurts that were 
upon her." 

These tales have somewhat of novelty, but others 
were decidedly adopted from the witches' trials in 
Europe, and they even went so far as to make the 
pretended sufferers, when under the influence of 
the " spirit,'* talk languages which they had never 
learnt, such as Latin, and Greek, and even Hebrew, 
although it appeared that even Satan himself would 
not condescend to talk the barbarous jargon of the 


Indians.* It was the " shapes," or spectral ap- 
pearances of the witches who tormented the suf- 
ferers, and performed all these mischievous pranks, 
and the strange perversion of justice which allowed 
the presumed acts of these spectres to be considered 
as the crimes of the individuals they represented, 
rendered the only possible defence, the plea of 
alibi, inadmissible. The statement regarding these 

* Dr. Cotton Mather gives the following humourous descrip- 
tion of the difficulty of acquiring the Indian language : " Be- 
hold new difficulties to be surmounted hy our indefatigable 
Elliot ! He hires a native to teach him this exotic language, 
and, with a laborious care and skill, reduces it into a grammar, 
which afterwards he published. There is a letter or two of our 
alphabet which the Indians never had in theirs ; but if their 
alphabet be short, I am sure the words composed of it are long 
enough to tire the patience of any scholar in the world ; they 
are sesquipedaUa verhay of which their lingo is composed ; one 
would think they had been growing ever since Babel unto the 
dimensions to which they are now extended. For instance, if 
my reader will count how many letters there are in this one 
word, Nummatchehodtantamoongawunnonashj when he has 
done, for his reward, I'll tell him it signifies no more in 
EngUsh than * our lusts ;* and if I were to translate * our loves,* 
it must be nothing shorter than Noowomantammononkantman- 
nashy Or, to give my reader a longer word than either of these, 
KumfnogkodonattooUummooetite<iongannunnon(i8h, is, in Eng- 
lish, ' our question ;' but I pray, sir, count the letters ! Nor 
do we find in all this language the least affinity to, or deriva- 
tion from, any European speech that we are acquainted with.'* 
He then adds, " I know not what thoughts it will produce in 
my reader when I inform him, that once finding that the 
daemons in a possessed yoimg woman understood the Latin 
and Greek and Hebrew languages, my curiosity led me to 
make trial of this Indian language, and the dsBmons did seem 
€u if they did not understand it," — Mather's Maonalia, book 
iii. p. 198. 


spectral appearances were often as bold as they 
were extraordinary, and they found corroborative 
witnesses to support them. " It is well known," 
says Cotton Mather, in a s .ibsequent history of the 
colony, " that these wicked spectres did proceed so 
far as to steal several quantities of money from 
divers people, part of which individual money was 
dropt sometimes out of the air, before suflGicient 
spectators, into the hands of the afflicted, while the 
spectres were urging them to subscribe their cove- 
nant with deatL Moreover, poisons, to the standers 
by wholly invisibly, were sometimes forced upon 
the afflicted ; which,- when they have with much 
reluctancy swallowed, they have swoln presently, 
so that the common medicines for poisons have 
been found necessary to relieve them. Yea, some- 
times the spectres in the struggle have so dropt the 
poisons, that the standers by have smelt them, and 
viewed them, and beheld the pillows of the miser- 
able stained with them. Yet more, the miserable 
have complained bitterly of burning rags run into 
their forcibly distended mouths ; and though no- 
body could see any such cloths, or, indeed, any fires 
in the chambers, yet presently the scalds were seen 
plainly by everybody on the mouths of the com- 
plainers, and not only the smell, but the smoke, of 
the burning sensibly filled the chambers. Once 
more, the miserable exclaimed extremely of brand- 
ing irons heating at the fire on the hearth to mark 
them ; now, though the standers by could see no 
irons, yet they could see distinctly the print of them 
in the ashes, and smell them too as they were car- 
ried by the unseen furies unto the poor creatures 


for whom they were intended ; and those poor crea- 
tures were thereupon so stigmatised with them, that 
they will bear the marks of them to their dying 
day. Nor are these the tenth part of the prodigies 
that fell out among the inhabitants of New Eng- 
land. — Flashy people may burlesque these things, 
but when hundreds of the most sober people in a 
country, where they have as much mother- wit cer- 
tainly as the rest of mankind, know them to be 
true, nothing but the absurd and froward spirit of 
Sadducism can question them. I have not yet 
mentioned so much as one thing that will not be 
justified, if it be required, by the oaths of more 
considerate persons than any that can ridicule these 
odd phenomena." 

The moment the executions commenced, the evil, 
instead of stopping, spread wider and wider. The 
accused were multiplied in proportion to the accu- 
sers, and no one was for one moment sure that the 
next moment he might not be denounced and or- 
dered for trial, which was almost equivalent to 
being convicted. For so fully convinced were ma- 
gistrates and ministers that Satan was in the midst 
of them, using human instruments to effect his pur- 
poses, that the slightest evidence was received with 
the utmost eagerness. The court met again on the 
30th of June, and five more were condemned, who 
were all executed' on the 19th of July. Among 
these were Sarah Good and Rebecca Nurse, the two 
" good-wives " above mentioned. " On the trial of 
Sarah Good, one of the afilicted fell in a fit, and 
after coming out of it, she cried out of the prisoner 
for stabbing her in the hand with a knife, and that 


she had broken the knife in stabbing of her ; ac- 
cordingly a piece of the blade of a knife was found 
about her. Immediately information being given 
to the court, a young man was called, who produced 
a haft and part of the blade, which the court having 
viewed and compared, saw it to be the same. And 
upon inquiry, the young man affirmed that yester- 
day he happened to break that knife, and that he 
cast away the upper part, this afflicted person being 
then present, The young man was dismissed, and 
she was bidden by the court not to tell lies ; and 
was improved after (as she had been before) to give 
evidence against the prisoner." As to goodwife 
Nurse, the jury at first brought her in not guilty ; 
on which the accusers and the afflicted suddenly 
raised a hideous outcry, pretending that she was 
tormenting them again, and it being represented to 
the jury that they had not given due consideration 
to one expression of hers, they returned to recon- 
sider their verdict, and sent her to the gallows. 
Like her companions in suffering, she persisted in 
declaring her innocence. 

At another court, on the 5th of August, six were 
condemned, who were all executed on the 19th, 
except Procter's wife, who pleaded pregnancy. 
Among these was Mr. George Burroughs, a minister 
of the gospel, who provoked his judge by resting his 
defence on the bold argument, " that there neither 
are, nor ever were witches that, having made a 
compact with the devil, can send a devil to torment 
other people at a distance.'' When brought to the 
place of execution, he addressed the multitude as- 
sembled around him with so much feeling, that 


many of the spectators were in tears, and all seemed 
to relent. The accusers cried out upon him, and 
said the black man was standing by him and dic- 
tating his discourse ; and Dr. Cotton Mather, who 
was present on horseback, came forward to address 
the crowd, assuring them that he was not a miniBter 
regularly ordained, intimating that his piety was 
all deception, and telling them '^ that the devil has 
often been transformed into an angel of light.'' 
Thus was the rising sympathy of the people checked, 
and the executioner suffered to go through with his 

Some persons began now to feel alarmed at the 
manner in which these proceedings multiplied, or 
were disgusted at the injustice which they exhibited, 
though for some time it was dangerous to express 
such sentiments. One John Willard, who had been 
emi^oyed to arrest those accused, refused to perform 
the office any longer, and he was immediately cried 
out upon by the accusers. He sought safety in 
flight, but he was pursued and overtaken, and he 
was one of those executed with Burroughs.' Giles 
Cory was brought up for trial on the J 6th of Sep- 
tember, but indignant at the injustice which was 
shown to others, he refused to plead, and he was 
pressed to death. In the infliction of this punish- 
ment his tongue was forced out of his mouth, and 
the unfeeling sheriff forced it in again with his cane 
as the victim lay in the agonies of death. On the 
22nd of September, eight more were executed ; on 
their way to the place of execution the cart which 
conveyed them was upset, and the " afflicted *' de- 
clared that the devil accompanied the cart, and 


that he overthrew it in order to retard their punish- 

Nineteen individuals had now been hanged, in ad- 
dition to the man who was pressed to deaths and the 
magistrates themselves seem to have been anxious 
to find some justification for their conduct There- 
upon Cotton Mather, at the express desire of thegOver- 
nor, prepared for the press reports of seven of the 
trials, and justified them by examples taken from the 
similar trials in England and by the doctrines of the 
English writers in favour of the prosecutions for 
this crime. His book, entitled, " More Wonders of 
the Invisible World," was published in the month of 
October. The persecution received a check at this 
time from another circumstance. Mr. Hale, minis- 
ter of Beverley, had been one of the warmest pro- 
moters of these prosecutions ; but in the month of 
October the accusers, who were now aiming at more 
respectable people than at first, cried out upon this 
minister's wife. As he and his friends were fully 
convinced of her purity and innocence, this charge 
was treated as absurd, but it convinced Mr. Hale 
and others of the injustice of the whole proceedings. 
Still the leaders of the persecution persisted in their 
course, and to get over this serious difficulty, they 
raised the question whether the devil could assume 
the " shape'' or spectre of a good person to afflict 
his victims. Increase Mather, the principal of 
Haward College, was requested to treat this ques- 
tion, which he did very learnedly, in a book en- 
titled, " Cases of Conscience concerning witchcraft 
and Evil Spirits personating Men," resolving it in 
the affirmative. People's faith, however, was so far 

'n--- I -T 

BXBCTJTioNs OP Doas. 309 

sliaken by these latter occurrences, that though the 
accusations continued, and new arrests were made 
daily, there were no more executions. The persecu- 
tors, disappointed in their thirst after the blood of 
their own species, now vented their rage upon infe- 
rior animals. A dog was strangely afflicted at 
Salem, upon which those who had the spectral sight 
declared that a brother of one of the justices afflicted 
the poor animal, by riding upon it invisibly. The 
man made his escape, but the dog was very oinjustly 
hanged. Another dog was accused of afflicting 
others^ who fell into fits the moment it looked upon 
them, and it also was killed ! 

The infection was now communicated from Salem 
to other places. " About this time," says one of 
the writers of these events, "a new scene began. 
Oae Joseph Ballard, of Andover, whose wife was ill, 
sent to Salem for some of those accusers, to tell him 
who afflicted his wife ; others did the like. Horse 
and man were sent from several places to fetch 
those accusers who had the spectral sight, that they 
might thereby tell who afflicted those that were any 
way ill. When these came into any place where 
such were, usually they fell into a fit ; after which, 
being asked who it was that afflicted the person, 
they would for the most part name one who they 
said sat on the head and another that sat on the 
lower part of the afflicted. More than fifty people 
of Andover were thus complained of for afflicting 
their neighbours. Here it was that many accused 
themselves of riding upon poles through the air ; 
many parents believed their children to be witches, 
and many husbands their wives.'' 


At Andover the accusations multiplied so irapidly, 
that a justice of the peace of that place named 
Dudley Bradstreet, after committing thirty or forty, 
became alarmed, and refused to grant any more war- 
rants. The afflicted now cried upon the justice and 
his wife ; they said that he had killed nine persons 
by witchcraft, and they declared that they saw the 
ghosts of the murdered people hovering about him. 
Justice Bradstreet saw how things were going, and 
judged it advisable to make his escape. Soon after 
this, they cried out against a gentleman of Boston, 
who immediately obtained a writ of arrest against 
his accusers on a charge of defamation, and laid his 
damages at a thousand pounds. This bold proceed- 
ing did more than anything else to stop the accusa- 
tions, which from that time began to fall into dis^ 
credit Some of those who had confessed, retracted 
their confessions. On the 3rd of January, 1693, in 
the superior court of Salem, of fifty-six bills of in- 
dictment containing charges of this kind, thirty 
were ignored, and of the other six-and-twenty, when 
they were put on their trial, three only were found 
guilty. At the end of January, seven who lay under 
condemnation were reprieved. 

About the month of April governor Phipps was 
recalled, and he signalised his departure by setting 
at liberty all the prisoners charged with witchcraft. 
. They amounted at this time to about a hundred and 
fifty, of whom fifty had confessed themselves witches- 
About two hundred more had been accused, who 
were not yet placed under arrest The people of 
Salem expected the worse consequences from this, 
as they considered it, mistaken leniency, and they 



were astonished to find that the moment the accu- 
sations were discountenanced, there were no more 
afflicted — ^the witchcraft ceased. People in general 
now began to reflect, were convinced of their error, 
and lamented it. Seized with remorse, their Present- 
ment fell first and principally on Mr. Paris, the 
minister of Salem village, with whom the accusa- 
tions commenced ; many of his congregation with- 
drew from his communion, and they drew up arti- 
cles against him. The disputes between the minis" 
ter and his people lasted two or three years, and 
although he acknowledged his mistakes and pro- 
fessed that he should be far from acting again upon 
the same principles, they were not satisfied till he 
left them. In a strong remonstrance against him^ 
they enumerated the setting afloat of these accusa- 
tions as his principal crime, and declared their opi- 
nion that, " by these practices and principles, he 
had been the beginner and precursor of the sorest 
afflictions, not to this village only, but to this whole 
country, that did ever befall them.'/ 

Some persons persisted in believing in the witch- 
craft, and in Satan's active agency in this a£^ir, 
though they acknowledged that the accusations had 
been carried too far ; and among these were the two 
Mathers. Before the conclusion of the year an op- 
portunity occurred for reviving the subject. On the 
10th of September, 1693, a girl at Boston, named 
Margaret Rule, was seized with convulsions, and 
stated that she was visited by eight spectres, some 
of which she recognized as being those of persons 
she knew. Cotton Mather visited her, professed 
himself convinced of the truth of her statement, and 


would soon have raised up a new flame. But there 
was an influential and intelligent merchant of 
Boston, named Robert Calef, who also visited Mar- 
garet Rule, and who formed a totally different opi- 
nion to that expressed by Cotton Mather, whose doc- 
trine of witchcraft he controverted, and he gained the 
better in the argument. From a book published by 
Calef, published at Boston under the title of " More 
Wonders of the Invisible World," we obtain the best 
and most intelligible account of the extraordinary 
proceedings at Salem and Andover. 

From this time we hear no more of witches in 
New England. Ashamed of their weakness, the 
people of Salem seem to have brooded over their 
past folly for several years. On the 17th of Decem- 
ber, 1696,. a fast was proclaimed, one of the reasons 
for which was, " That God would show us what we 
knew not, and help us wherein we have done amiss 
to do so no more ; and especially that whatever mis- 
takes on either hand had been fallen into, either by 
the body of this people, or any orders of men, refer- 
ring to the late tragedy raised among us by Satan 
and his instruments through the awful judgment of 
God, he would humble us therefore, and pardon all 
the errors of his servants." At this fast one of the 
judges stood up to declare publicly his remorse for 
the part he had taken in these lamented transac- 
tions. The jurors signed a paper also proclaiming 
their repentance, and ending with the declaration, 
" that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and 
mistaken, for which we are much disquieted and 
distressed in our minds ; and do therefore humbly 
beg forgiveness, first of God, for Christ's sake, for 



this our error ; and pray that God would not impute 
the guilt of it to ourselves or others ; and we also 
pray that we may be considered candidly, and aright, 
by the living sufferers, as being then under the 
power of a strong and general delusion, utterly un- 
acquainted with, and not experienced in, matters of 
that naturew^' The delusion was further exposed by 
voluntary confessions of those who had previously 
confessed themselves witches, which they declared 
they had done only to save their lives. The follow- 
ing declaration, signed by several of the women who 
had acted as accusers, no doubt acquaints us with 
the secret of many of the witch-delusions in England- 
" Joseph Ballard of Andover's wife being sick,"" say 
they, " he either from himself, or the advice of 
others, fetched two of the persons called the affliqted 
{Persons from Salem village to Andover, which was 
the cause of that dreadful calamity which befel us 
at Andover. We were blindfolded, and our hands 
were laid on the afflicted persons, they being in 
their fits, and falling into these fits at our coming 
into their presence, and then they said that we were 
guilty of afflicting them, whereupon we were all 
seized as prisoners by a warrant from the justice of 
peace, and forthwith carried to Salem ; and by reason 
of that sudden surprisal, we knowing ourselves alto- 
gether innocent of that crime, we were all exceed- 
ingly astonished, and amazed, and consternated, 
and afirighted out of our reason ; and our deajrest 
relations seeing us in that dreadful condition, and 
knowing our great danger, they, out of tender love 
and pity, persuaded us to confess what we did con- 
fess ; and, indeed, that confession was no other than 

VOL. IL p 



what was suggested to us by some gentlemen, they 
telling us that we were witches, and they knew it, 
and we knew it, and they knew that we knew it, 
which made us think that we were so, and our un- 
derstanding, and our reason, and our faculties being 
almost gone, we were not capable of judging of our 
condition ; as also the hard measures they used with 
us rendered us incapable' of making any defence, 
but we said anything and everything they desired, 
and most of what we said was, in fact, but a consent- 
ing to what they said/' 

^^WWi. ■■ ' WJI.J^1."L ^WJi-^afcg 




The narrative of Satan's doings in New England 
may be looked upon as an appropriate conclusion to 
a historical sketch of the prosecutions for witch- 
craft. We see here combined in one short act the 
sudden force exercised by the superstition over the 
popular mind, the disasters to which it led, and the 
final triumph of good sense and honest feelings in 
dispelling the illusion. It was that good sense 
which was now overcoming popular ignorance in 
most of the countries of Europe. 

In France, where in the earlier period the perse- 
cution of witches was most, intense, the same cir- 
cumstances had not existed to keep it up as in 
England and Scotland. With the exception of 
several cases of pretended possession, intrigues of 
the Catholic priesthood, who thus practised on the 
credulity of the populace, which occurred at this 
time, we hear little of witchcraft in France during 

P 2 


the latter half of the seventeenth century. The 
belief still existed among the peasantry, who, when 
blights and diseases fell upon their produce or stock 
unexpectedly, were too apt to ascribe it to such 
agency, but they were discountenanced by the 
better classes of society. In 1 672, a great number 
of shepherds were arrested in Normandy, on a 
charge of witchcraft, and prosecuted before the par- 
liament of Rouen ; but when the king was informed 
of it, heat once put a stop to the process by an order 
of council, directing the prisoners to be set at liberty. 
This proceeding on the part of the king had the 
immediate effect de faire taire le demon! Yet 
a similar accusation was brought against the shep- 
herds of Brie in 169 J. 

Still the belief existed in suiEcient force to admit 
of its being used as an instrument for indulging per- 
sonal animosity, and that between a minister of 
the crown and one of the most distinguished and 
celebrated of the marechals of Louis XIV. There 
lived at Paris four men who professed to be magi- 
cians, and pretended to be able to raise the devil 
at will ; they told people's fortunes, helped them to 
recover things stolen or lost, and sold powders and 
unguents. Their names were Lavoisin, Lavigou- 
reux and his brother, the latter a priest, and an- 
other priest named Lesage. In the year 1680 these 
men were arrested, and as the crimes in which 
they and many others were involved had usually 
been punished by burning, a tribunal was appointed 
to sit at the Arsenal, under the title of a chambre 
ardente. Although few fires were eventually lit by 
the judgments of this court, a great number of per- 

^^^i^mmBmsKfmmKmmma^9'^^'^^^''^smi^mmf^ jm r— ", i j — . ^m . j*i~ * -'.ljjjl 



so»3 were more or less compromised, and many of 
them belonging to the highest classes of society. 
Among them were two nieces of cardinal Ma- 
zarin ; the countess of Soissons, who was cited be^ 
fore this tribunal, was so far implicated, that she 
was obliged to leave Paris and retire to Brussela 
Most of these personages were probably led to con- 
sult the conjurers more by curiosity than from any 
other motive, and the whole matter was made a 
subject of ridicule and raillerie in the fashionable 
world. When the duchess of Bouillon, who was 
one of the ladies implicated in this affair, was ex- 
amined before the chambre ardente, one of the 
judges, la Reynie, who was not remarkable for 
beauty or politeness, asked her if she had seen the 
devil, and what he was like ; she replied, " Yes, I 
see him now ; he is fort laid et fort vilain, and 
appears in the disguise of a conseiller d'etat i" 

It appears that the marechal de Luxembourg had 
employed Lesage to draw his horoscope, and thus 
the name of this great man was introduced into the 
process. Louvois was at that time prime minister 
of France, and having some cause of hostility against 
the marechal, he determined to make this an oppor- 
tunity for indulging his animosity, and the mare- 
chal de Luxembourg was thrown into the Bastille. 
It appears that one of the marechal's agents named 
Bonard had lost some papers of consequence belong- 
ing to his employer, and that, unable to discoved 
any traces of them, he had consulted the priest 
Lesage, who instructed him how he was to visit the 
churches, recite psalms, and make confessions. 
Bonard did all this, but still he was as far from 


recoyering his papers as ever. Then Lesage told 
him that a girl named Dupin knew something 
about them, and, under his directions, Bonard per- 
formed a conjuration to force her to bring them 
back, but without effect. Upon this it appears that 
Bonard had obtained the marechal's signature to a 
paper which turned out to be a compact with Satan, 
and which was produced at the trial It would seem 
that the mar^chal had been concerned in some in^ 
trigue with the girl Dupin. Lesage deposed that the 
marechal had addressed himself to him, and through 
him to the devil, to effect the death of this girl, who 
perhaps had been murdered, for men were brought 
forward who confessed themselves the assassins, 
and who declared that, bj order of the marechal 
de Luxembourg, they had cut her in pieces and 
thrown the fragments into the river. The mare- 
chal was confronted with Lesage, and with another^ 
priest and conjurer named Davaux, with whom he 
was accused of practising sorcery, for the purpose 
of killing more than one person. But he rebutted 
all these and other charges with indignation, and, 
instead of bringing him to a trial, Louvois caused 
him to be kept in close confinement, and took care 
that the process should be carried on as slowly as 
possible. It was only after fourteen months of im- 
prisonment that he was set at liberty ; the accusa- 
tions were dropped without any judgment, atfd he 
was restored to favour and to the high offices he 
had previously held. The four magicians were less 
fortunate, for they had all been burnt. 

France had, however, the honour of leading the 
way in discouraging prosecutions of this kind. Hie 



irreligion and scepticism of the court of Charles II. 
contributed no doubt towards producing the same 
effect in England, where many, who before ven- 
tured only to doubt, now hesitated not to treat the 
subject with ridicule. Although works like those 
of Baxter and Qlanvill had still their weight with 
many people, yet, in the controversy which was 
now carried on upon this subject through the in- 
i?trumentality of the press, those who wrote against 
the popular creed had certainly the best of the 
argument Still it happened jGrom their form and 
character that the books written to expose the ab- 
surdity of the belief in sorcery, were restricted in 
their circulation to the more educated classes, while 
popular tracts in defence of witchcraft, and collec- 
tions of cases, were printed in a cheaper form, and 
widely distributed among that class in society 
where the belief was most firmly rooted. The effect 
of these popular publications has continued in 
some districts down to the present day Thus the 
press, the natural tendency of which was to en- 
lighten mankind, was made to increase ignorance by 
pandering to the superstitions of the multitude. 

An instance of the continuance of the belief 
which had in former times produced the sacrifice of 
so much human life, occurred at the beginning of 
the year 1712, in the village of Walkern, in the 
north of the county of Hertford. There was a poor 
woman in that town named Jane Wenham, who, it 
appears, had for some time been looked upon by 
the more ignorant of her neighbours as a witch. 
When the horses or cattle of the farmers of that 
parish died, they usually ascribed their losses to thiF 



woman's sorcery. This was particularly the case 
with a farmer named John Chapman, one of whose 
labourers, named Matthew Gilson, examined on 
the fourteenth of February, declared " that on ISew 
Year's day last past, he carrying straw upon a fork 
from Mrs. Gardiner's bam, met Jane Wenham, who 
asked him for some straw, which he refused to give 
her ; then she said she would take some, and ac- 
cordingly took some away from this informant. 
And further this informant saith, that on the 29th 
of January last, when this informant was threshing 
in the bam of his master John Chapman, an old 
woman in a riding-hood or cloak, he knows not 
which, came to the barn door, and asted him for a 
pennyworth of straw ; he told her he could give her 
none, and she went away muttering. And this in- 
formant saith, that after the woman was gone he 
was not able to work, but ran out of the barn as far 
as a place called Munder's-hill, (which was above 
three ipiles from Walkern,) and asked at a house 
there for a pennyworth of straw, and they refused 
to give him any ; he went further to some dung- 
heaps, and took some straw from thence, and pulled 
off his shirt, and brought it home in his shirt ; he 
knows not what moved him to this, but says he 
was forced to it he knows not how." Another wit- 
ness declared that he saw Matthew Gilson return- 
ing with the straw in his shirt ; that he moved 
along at a great pace, and that instead of passing 
over a bridge,^ he walked straight through the 

John Chapman conceived now that his suspicions 
were fully verified, and meeting Jane Wenham soon 

*P^— ^^^""^^^Cr— "^■■i^^i^l^MM^^^^^^^^^^^^HBHBi 


afterwards, he applied to her in anger several offen- 
sive epithets, of which that of " witch"' was the least 
opprobrious. On the 9th of February, Jane Wenham 
made her complaint to sir Henry Chauncy,. who 
was a magistrate, and obtained a warrant against 
Chapman for defamation. In the sequel, at the re- 
commendation of this magistrate, the quarrel be- 
tween Jane Wenham and the farmer was referred 
to the decision of the minister of Walkem, the Rev. 
Mr. Gardiner, who appears to have spoken some- 
what harshly to the woman, advising her to live 
more peaceably with her neighbours, and condemned 
Chapman to pay her one shilling. 

As far as we can' see, Jane Wenham took the 
most sensible course to retrieve herself from the 
imputation of being a witch ; but Mr. Gardiner, 
although a clergyman of the church of England, 
was as fitm a believer in witchcraft as farmer Chap- 
man, and he fancied that he had provoked the 
poor woman by not giving her the justice she ex- 
pected. Hisjudgment was delivered in the kitchen of 
the parsonage-house, where a maid-servant, between 
sixteen and seventeen years of age, named Anne 
Thorn, was sitting by the fire-side, who had put her 
knee out the evening before, and had just had it 
set. It appears that the supposed witch resolved to 
take vengeance on this poor girl for the offence 
committed by her master. Jane Wenham and 
Chapman were gone, and Mr. Gardiner had entered 
the parlour to his wife, accompanied by a neighbour 
named Bragge. These three persons deposed at the 
subsequent trial, that " Mr. Gardiner had not been 
in the parlour with his wife and Mr. Brags^e above 

P 5 

322 SOBCB&T AlTD MAGfia 

six or seven minutes ftt most since he left Anne 
Thorn sitting by the fire, when he heard a strsMge 
yelling noise in the kitchen, and when he went ooi 
and found this Anne Thorn stripped to her shirt 
sleeves, howling and wringing her hands in a 
dismal manner, and q^eechless, he calling out, Mrs. 
Gardiner and Mr. Bragge came immediately to hiin. 
Mrs. Gbtrdiner seeing her servant in that sad con* 
dition, asked her what was the matter with her; 
She not being able to speak, pointed earnestly at a 
bundle which lay at her feet, which Mr& Gardiner 
took np and unpinned, and found it to be the girFs 
gown and apron, and a parcel of oaken twigs with 
dead leaves wrapt up therein. As soon as this 
bundle was opened, Anne Thorn began to speak, 
crying out, ' I^m ruined and undone ; and after she 
had a little recovered herself, gave the following re- 
lation of what had befallen her. She said when sbe 
was left alone she found a strange roaming in her 
hand (I use her own expressions) ; her mind ran 
upon Jane Wenham, and she thought she must run 
some whither; that accordingly she ran up Hne 
close, but looked back several times at the hous^ 
thinking she should never see it more; that she 
climbed over a five-bar gate, and ran along the 
highway up a hill ; that there she met two of John 
Chapman^s men, one of whom took hold of her band, 
saying, she should go with them ; but she was 
forced away from them, not being able to speak, 
either to them, or to one Daniel Chapman, whom, 
she said, she met on horseback, and would fain 
have spoken to him, but could not ; then she made 
her way towards Cromer, as far as a place called 

--n— ■-—'-———■ 



ANNB thorn's ADYEHTinEtES. 388 

Hackney-lane, where she looked behind her, and 
saw a little old woman muffled in a riding-hood, 
who asked her whither she was going. She an- 
swered, to Cromer to fetch some sticks to make her 
a fire ; the old woman told her there were now no 
sticks at Cromer, and bade her go to that oak-tree, 
and pluck some from thence, which she did, and 
laid them upon the ground. The old woman bade 
her pull off her gown and apron, and wrap the 
sticks in ih&n, and asked her whether she had 
e'er a pin. Upon her answering she had none, the 
old woman gaye her a large crooked pin, bade her 
pin up her bundle, and then vanished away ; after 
which she ran home with her bundle of sticks, and 
sat down in the kitchen stript, as Mr. Gardiner 
found her. This is the substance of what she re- 
lated, upon which Mrs. Gardiner cried out, ' The 
girl has been in the same condition with Chapman's 
man ; but we will bum the witch ; alluding to a 
reoeiyed notion, that when the thing bewitched is 
burned the witch is forced to come in ; accordingly 
she took the sticks, together with the pin, and threw 
them into the fire. Immediately, in the instant 
that the sticks were flaming, Jane Wenham came 
into the room, and inquired for Elizabeth, the 
mother of Anne Thorn, sajdng she had an errand 
to do to her from Ardley Bury, (sir Henry 
Chauncy's house,) to wit, that she must go thither 
to wash the next day. Now this mother Thorn 
had been in the house all tiie time that Jane Wen- 
ham was there with John Chapman, and heard 
nothing of it» and was then gone homei Mrs. Gar- 
diner bad Jane Wenham go to Elizabeth ThorQ, 

324 80BCBBT AKD XAGia 

and tell her there vae work euongli for her tiiere ; 
on which she departed. And upon inquiry made 
Kflerwards, it was found that she neyer was of- 
dered to deliver any such errand from Ardl^ 

Here was an excellent groundwork for an accusa- 
tion of witchcraft. Chapukan's two -men, and the 
horseman, deposed to meeting Anne Thome on the 
road, as she described ; and others of Jane Wen- 
ham's enemies testified that other people had heen 
bewitched by her. All received encouragement 
from the readiness of the clergyman to promote the 
prosecution, and a warrant was obtained from sir 
Henry Chauncy to arrest the supposed witch. The 
examinations were taken before sir Henry at 
Ardley Bury, and he directed four women to search 
Jane Wenham's body for marks, but none were 
found. Next day the examination was continued, 
and the evidence of the Gardiners was taken. Jane 
Wenham expressed her horror of being sent to jail, 
earnestly protested her innocence, entreating Hrs. 
Gardiner not to swear against her, and offering to 
submit to trial by swimming in the water. Sir 


Jane Wenham was now committed, and her trial 
came on on the 4th of March before justice Powell, 
when no less than sixteen witnesses, among whom 
were three clergymen, were heard against the pri- 
soner. The lawyers refused to draw up the indict- 
ment for any other charge than that of " convers- 
ing with the devil in the form of a cat,'' which, to 
the great anger of the prosecutors, threw an air of 
ridicule over the whole proceeding. Yet upon this 
indictment, in spite of her declarations of inno- 
cence, the Hertfordshire jury found her guilty. 
The judge was obliged to pronounce sentence of 
death, as a matter of form ; but he subsequently 
obtained her pardon, and a gentleman of more en- 
lightened mind than the people of Walkern, Colonel 
Plummer, of Gilston in the same county, took her 
underbids protection, and placed her in a cottage 
near his own house, where she passed the rest of 
her life in a quiet inoffensive manner. 

Few events of this kind have caused a greater 
sensation than the case of Jane Wenhaxn. The 
report of the trial passed through several editions 
in a few days, and gave rise to a very bitter con- 
troversy, in which several clergymen joined in the 
cry against the innocent victim. The dispute seems 
to have become in some degree identified with the 
bitter animosities then existing between the church 
and the dissenters — ^it was just the time when the 
intolerant party, with their hero Sacheverell, had 
gained the upper hand, and they seemed not 
unwilling to recall into force even the old degrad- 
ing belief in witchcraft if they could make it an 
instrument for effecting their purposes. But the 


most important result of this trial, and the contro- 
▼ersy to which it gave rise, was the pubMcatioa, 
two or three years afterwards, of the '^ Historical 
Essay concerning Witchcraft,^' by the king's chi^ 
lain in ordinary. Dr. Francis Hutchinson. This 
book may be considered as the last blow at 
witchcraft, which firom this time found credit 
only among the most ignorant part of the poptda* 

The case of Jane Wenham is the last instance of 
a witch being condemed by the verdict of an Eng* 
lish jury. When the prosecutors were no longer 
listened to in courts of justice, they either ceased 
to find objects of pursuit, or they appealed for jud^ 
mentto the passionsof the uneducated peasantry. An 
occurrence of this kind, no less brutal than tragical, is 
said to haye led to the final repeal of the witchcraft 
act. The scene is again laid in Hertfordshire. In 
the middle of the last century, there lived at Tring 
in that county a poor man and his wife of the 
name of Osborne, each about seventy years of age. 
During the rebellion of forty-five, mother Osborne, 
as she was popularly called, went to one Butter* 
field, who kept a dairy at G^ubblecot, to beg for 
some butter-milk, but he told her with great bru- 
tality that he had not enough for his hogs. The 
old woman, provoked by this treatment, went away, 
telling him that the pretender would soon have 
him and his hogs too. The connexion with what 
followed perhaps axose from the popular outcry 
which had long coupled the pretender with Satan> 
Some time afterwards, some of Butterfield's calves 
became distempered, and the ignorant people of the 


neighbourhood, who had heard the story of the 
buttermilk, declared that they were bewitched by 
mother Osborne. In course of time Butterfield 
left; his dairy, and took a public-house in the 
same Tillage, where, about the beginning of the 
year 1 751, he was troubled with fits, and, although 
he had been subject to similar fits in former times, 
these also were now ascribed to mother Osborne. 
He was persuaded that the doctors could do him no 
good, and was advised to send for an old woman 
out of Northamptonshire, a white witch, who had 
the reputation of being skilfal in counteracting the 
effects of sorcery. This woman confirmed the opi- 
nion already afloat of the cause of Butterfield's dig* 
order, and she directed that six men should watd& 
his house day and night, with staves, pitchforks, 
and other weapons, at the same time hanging some* 
thing about their necks, which she said was a 
charm to secure them from being bewitched them- 
selves. This produced, as might be expected, no 
effect, and the accusation might have dropped ; but 
some persons, desirous of collecting together a large 
number of persons with a lucrative object, caused 
notice to be given at several of the market-towns 
around that witches were to be tried by ducking at 
Longmarston on the 22nd of April. The conse- 
quence was that a vast concourse of people assem- 
bled at Tring on the day announced. The parish 
officers had removed the old couple from the work- 
house into the church, for security; upon which 
the mob, after searching in vain the workhouse, and 
even looking into the salt-box to see if the witch 
had transformed herself into any diminutive form 


that could be concealed there, exhibited their dis- 
appointment in breaking the windows, pulling* 
down the pales, and demolishing a part of the 
housed They then seized upon the governor, and 
collecting together a quantity of straw, threatened 
to drown him and set fire to the town unless the 
unfortunate couple were delivered up to them. 
Fear at length induced the parish officers to yield, 
and the two wretches were stripped stark naked by 
the mob, their thumbs tied to their toes, and thus, 
each wrapped in a loose sheet, they were dragged 
two miles and thrown into a muddy stream. A 
chimney-sweeper named Colley, one of the ring- 
leaders,' seeing that the poor woman did not sink, 
went into the pond and turned her over several 
times with a stick, by which her body slipped out 
of the sheet and was exposed naked. In this con- 
dition, and half choaked with mud, she was thrown 
on the bank, and there kicked and beaten till she 
expired Her husband died also of the injuries he 
had received. The man who had superintended 
these brutal proceedings went round to the crowd 
collecting money for the amusement he had afforded 
them ! The coroner's inquest brought a verdict of 
wilful murder against several persons by name, but 
the only one brought to justice was the sweep 
Colley, who was executed, and afterwards hung in 
chains, for the murder of Ruth Osborne. 

From this time witchcraft has attracted no atten- 
tion in £ngland, except as a vulgar superstition in 
some rude localities where the schoolmaster had 
not yet penetrated. In Scotland the struggle be- 
tween superstition and common sense continued 


loiig^ and was more obstinate. A few of the later 
oases of Scottish sorcery were collected by George 
Sinclair, in a little book published in the beginning 
of the last century, under the title of " Satan's In- 
visible World Discovered/' One or two of these 
will serve to show the form which witchcraft as- 
sumed in Scotland at the time when it was falling 
into discredit among men of education. 

There was a man named Sandie Hunter who 
called himself Sandie Hamilton, but was better 
known by the nickname of Hattaraick, given him, 
it se^DQs, by the deviL He was first a " noltherd " 
in East Lothian, but he had assumed the character 
of a conjuror, curing men and beasts by spells and 
charma " His charms sometimes succeeded, somer 
times not'' However, the extent of Hattaraick's 
practice seems to have raised the jealousy of Satan. 
" On a day herding his kine upon a hill-side in 
the summer-time, the devil came to him in the 
form of a medeciner, and said, * Sandie, you have too 
long followed my trade, and never acknowledged 
me for your master ; you must now take with me, 
and be my servant, and I will make you more per- 
fect in your calling/ • Whereupon the man gave 
up himself to the devil, and received his mark, 
ynth this new name. After this he grew very 
famous through the country, for his charming, and 
curing of diseases in men and beasts, and turned 
a vagrant fellow, like a jockey, gaining meal and 
flesh and money by his charms ; such was the igno- 
rance of many at the time, whatever house he 
came to, none durst refuse Hattaraick an alms, 
rather for his ill than his good. One day he came. 


to the Tftit (gate) of Samnelston, vhen some friends 
after dinner were going to horse, a youag gentle* 
man, brother to the lady, ae^g him, switched him 
about the ears, saying, 'You wariock caiiie, what 
have you to do here f Whereupon the fdlow goes 
away grumbling, and was overheard say, ' Yon 
^all dear buy this ere it be long.' This was 
danimtm minatum. The young gentleman con- 
veyed hia ftiends a way off, and came home that 
way again, where he supped. After sapper, taking 
his horse, and crossing Tyne water to go home, he 
rode through a shady piece of haugh, commonly 
called Cotters, and the evening hnng somewhat 
dark, he met with some persons there that be^t 
a dreadful consternation in him, which, for the 
most part, he would never reveal This was mtdmn. 
secutum. When he came home, the servants ob- 
served terror and fear in his countenance. The 
next day he becatae distracted, and was bound for 
neveral daya His sister, the lady Samuelston, 
hearing of it, was heard say, ' Surely that knave 
Hattanuck is the cause of his trouble, call for him 
in all hasta' When he had come to hw, ' Sandie,' 
sud she, ' what is this you have done to my brother 


Wlien Hattaraick came to receive his wages, he 
toM the lady, * Your brother William shall quickly 
go off the country, but shall never return/ She 
knowing the fellow's prophecies to hold true, caused 
her brother to make a disposition to her of all his 
patrimony, to the defrauding of his younger bro- 
ther George. After that this warlock had abused 
the country for a long time, he was at last appre- 
hended at Dunbar, and brought into Edinburgh, and 
burnt upon the castle hill.'^ 

Another extraordinary case occurred about the 
end of August, 1696. One Christian Shaw, the 
daughter of John Shaw of Bargarran, in the shire 
of Renfrew, about eleven years of age, perceiving 
one of the maids of the house, named Catharine 
Campbell, to steal and drink some milk, she told her 
mother of it Whereupon the maid, " being of a 
proud and revengeful humour, and a great curser 
and swearer, did, in a great rage, thrice imprecate 
the curse of Ood upon the child, and utter these 
words, * the devil harle your soul through hell \' 
On Friday following, one Agnes Nasmith came to 
Bargarran's house, where she asked the said Chris- 
tian, how the lady and young child was? and how 
old the young child was ? To which Christian re- 
plied, ' What do I know f Then Agnes asked, 
how herself did, and how old she was ? To which 
she answered that she was well, and in the 
eleventh year of age. On Saturday night thereafter, 
the child went to bed in good health ; but so soon 
as she was asleep, she began to cry, ^ Help, help ;' 
and did fly over the resting-bed where she was 
lying, with such violence, that her brains had been 

332 soBcsaT aku » aoic 

dashed out, if a voman tad not broken the force of 
the child's motion, and remained as if she bad been 
dead, for the space of half an hour. After this she 
was troubled with sore pains, except in some short 
intervals, and -when any of the people present 
touched any part of her body, she did cry and 
screech with such vehemence, as if they bad been 
killing her, but would not speak. Some days there- 
after she fell a crying that Catharine Campbell and 
Agnes Nasmith were cutting her side and other 
parts of her body. In this condition she continued 
a month, with some variation, both as to the hts 
and intervals. She did thrust out of her mouth 
parcels of hair, some curled, some plaited, some 
knotted, of different colours, and in large quanti- 
ties, and likewise coal cinders, which were so hot that 
they could scarcely be handled One of which Dr. 
Brisbane, being by her when she took it out of her 
mouth, felt to be hotter than any one's body could 
make it. The girl continued a long time in this 
condition, till the government began to take notice 
of it, and gave commission to some honourable gen- 
tlemen for the trials of those two, and several 
others concerned in these practices ; and being 
brought before the judges, two of their accomplices 
confessed the crime; whereupon they were con- 
demned and executed." 

Somewhere about the same time an equally 
strange affair occurred at the town of Pittenweem 
in Fife, which may also be told in the words of 
Sinclair. " Peter Morton, a smith at Pittenweem, 
being desired by one Beatie Laing to do some work 
for her, which he refused, excusing himself in re- 


. spect he had been pre-engaged to serve a ship with 
nails, within a certain time ; so that till he had 
finished that work, he could not engage in any- 
other ; that notwithstanding the said Beatie Laing 
declared herself dissatisfied, and vowed revenge. 
The said Peter Morton afterwards being indisposed, 
coming by the door, saw a small vessel full of 
water, and a coal of fire * slockened' in the water ; so 
perceiving an alteration in his health, and remem- 
bering Beatie Laing's threatdnings, he presently 
suspects devilry in the matter, and quarels the 
thing. Thereafter, finding his indisposition grow- 
ing worse and worse, being tormented and pricked 
as with bodkins and pins, he openly lays the blame 
upon witchcraft, and accused Beatie Laing. He 
continued to be tormented, and she was, by war- 
rant, apprehended, with others in Pittenweem. No 
natural reason could be given for his distemper, his 
face and neck being dreadfully distorted, his back 
prodigiously rising and falling, his belly swelling 
and falling on a sudden, his joints pliable, and con- 
stantly so stiff as no human power could bow 
them. Beatie Laing and her hellish companions 
being in custody, were brought to the room where 
he was, and his face covered, he told his tormentors 
were in the room, naming them. And though for- 
merly no confession had been made, Beatie Laing 
confessed her crime, and accused several others as 
accessories. The said Beatie having confessed her 
compact with the devil, and using of spells, and 
particularly her ' slockening' the coal in water, she 
named her associates in revenge against Peter Mor- 
ton, viz., Janet Cornfoot, Lillie Wallace, and Lawson, 

334 80BCEBY Alno MAQIG. 

who had Iramed a picture of wax, and ey^7 ime of 
the forenamed persons having put their pin in tke 
picture for torture They could not tell -what 
had become of the image, but thought the devil 
had stolen it, whom they had seen in the prison. 
Beatie Laing likewise said, that one Isobel Adams, 
a young lass, was also in compact with the devil. 
This woman was desired to see with Beatie^ whidi 
she refused ; and Beatie let her see a man at the 
other end of the table, who appeared as a gentleman, 
and promised her all prosperity in the world ; she pro- 
mised her service to him, and he put his mark on her 
flesh, which was very painfuL She was shortly after 
ordered to attend the company, to go to one Mac 6ri- 
gor s house to murder him ; he awaking when they 
were there, and recommending himself to Grod, th^ 
were forced to withdraw. This Isobel Adams appeared 
ingenuous, and very penitent in her confessions; 
she said, he who forgave Manasseh's witchcrafts 
might forgive hers also ; and died very penitent, 
and to ike satisfa^etion of momy. This Beatie Laing 
was suspected by her husband, long before she was 
laid in prison by warrant of the magistrates. The 
occasion was thus : she said, that she had packs of 
very good wool, which she instantly sold, and 
coming home with a black horse which she had 
with her, they drinking till it was late in the night 
ere they came home, that man said, ^^ What shall I 
do with the horse f* She replied, " Cast the bridle 
on his neck, and you will be quit of him ;"' and, as 
her husband thought, the horse flew with a great 
noise away in the air. They were, by a comj^nt 
to the privy council, prosecuted by her majesty's 

,«i^i^iir ' — — — 


advocate^ in 1 704, but all set at liberty save one 
who died in Pittenweem. Beattie Laing died un- 
desired, in her bed, in St. Andrews; all the rest 
died miserable and violent deaths." 

80 sajs Mr. Greorge Sinclair, who has, however, 
omitted to inform us of the most frightful part of 
this story. Janet Comfoot, one of the persons ac- 
cused, made her escape from prison, but she was re- 
captured, and brought back to Pittenweem, where, 
falling into the hands of a ferocious mob, they 
pelted her with stones, swung her on a rope ex- 
tended from a ship to the shore, and at length 
put an end to her sufferings by throwing a door 
over her as she lay exhausted on the beach, 
and heaping stones on it till she was pressed 
to death. This was the woman who, according 
to Sinclair, " died in Pittenweem.'' The ma- 
gistrates had made no attempt to rescue the mi- 
serable woman from the hands of her tormentcmi, 
and they were now violently attacked in print for 
their conduct, and were as warmly defended by 
some advocates. The citation on the subject of 
the union with England contributed to the impunity 
with which the murderers escaped. But the con- 
troversy it occasioned, joined with the horror which 
such a barbarous outrage excited, tended more than 
anything else to open people's eyes in Scotland to 
the absurdity and wickedness of the prosecutions 
for witchcraft. It required, however, a few more 
instances, remarkable chiefly for their absurdity, to 
bring them entirely into discredit. In 1718, a car- 
pentear in the shire of Caithness, named William 


Montgomery, vas infested at night with catfi, irhich, 
according to the evidence of his serrant-maid, 
" spoke among themselves," and in a violent attack 
upon them with every weapon within his reach, lie 
inflicted personal injury to a very considerable ex- 
tent. Two women were believed to have died in 
consequence of these injuries, and a third, in a weak 
state, was imprisoned and compelled to confess not 
only that she was one of the offending cats, but to 
declare against a number of her confederates in 
witchcraft. A century earlier, no doubt this con- 
fession would have been fatal to most of the old 
women in the neighbourhood ; but times were 
changed, and the lord advocate, on being applied to, 
put a stop to all further proceedings. In 1720, 
some old women of Calder were- imprisoned for cer- 
tain pretended sorceries exercised on a boy, the son 
of James lord Torphichen, but the ofEcera of the 
crown would not proceed to a trial Yet two years 
later, a poor woman was burnt as a witch in the 
county of Sutherland, by order of the sheriff, captain 
David Ross, of Littledean. This was the last sen- 
tence of death for witchcraft that waa ever passed 
in Scotland. 

It appears that in Ireland the law against witch- 
craft has never been repealed, a circumstance that 


that persuasion, that it has been printed over and 
oyer again, the edition I have before me bearing 
date in 1822, upwards of a hundred years after 
that of the event it commemorates. There is some- 
thing peculiarly Irish in the story — it is a house, or 
rather a family, haunted by a spirit sent by witches. 
Mrs. Anne Hattridge was the widow of the presby- 
terian minister of the district just mentioned, and 
was living with her son James Hattridge. At the' 
beginning of September^ 1710, the house began to 
be disturbed by an invisible visitor, who threw 
stones and turf about, pulled the 'pillows and bed- 
clothes q£F the bed, and played a variety of other 
disagreeable pranks. . Once it appeared in the shape 
of a cat, which they killed and threw into the yard, 
but when they looked for the body it had disap- 
peared. " There was little remarkable for several 
days after, unless it were that her cane would be 
taken away, and be missing several days together ; 
until the 11th of December, 1710, when the afore- 
said Mrs. Hattridge was sitting at the kitchen-fire, 
in the evening, before daylight-going, a little boy 
(as she and -the servants supposed) came in and sat 
down beside her, having an old black bonnet on his 
head, with short black hair, a half-worn blanket 
about him, trailing on the ground behind him, and 
a torn black vest under it. H^ seemed to be about 
ten or twelve years old, but he still covered his face 
holding his arm with apiece of the blanket before it. 
She desired to see his face, but he took no notice of 
her. Then she asked him several questions ; viz. if 
he was cold or hungry ? if he would have any meat ? 
where he came from, and whither he was going ? To 



" CUrl, How came it that you did not take the 
Bible too ? 

" Appar, It was too heavy to carry. 

" Oirl. Will you give it back ? for my mistress 
can^t want it any longer. 

" Appar, No, she shall never get it again. 

" Oirl Can you read on it ? 

" Appar. Yes. 

" Oirl Who taught you ? 

" Appar, The devil taught me. 

" Oirl The Lord bless me from thee ! thou. hast 
got ill lear Qearning), 

" Appar, Aye, bless yourself twenty times, but 
that shall not save you. 

" Oirl, What will you do to us ? (Mr. Hattridge's 
son, about eight years of age, was with her at the 

" Upon which it pulled out a sword and thrust it 
in at the window, and said it would kill all in the 
house with that sword ; at which the child said^ 
' Meg, let us go into the room and bar the door, for 
fear it should kill us ; which they did ; then it 
jeered them, saying, ' Now you think you are safe 
enough, but 111 get in yet.' 

" Oirl, What way ? for we have the street-door 

" Appar, I can come in by the least hole in the 
house, like a cat or mouse, for the devil can make 
me anything I please. 

" Oirl, Grod bless me from thee, for thou art no 
earthly creature if you can do that. 

" Upon which it took up a stone of considerable 
bigness, and threw it in at the parlour-window, 


which upon trial could not be put out at the same 
place, and then went away for a little time A little 
after, the girl and -one of the children came out of 
the parlour to the kitchen, and looking out of the 
window, saw the apparition catching a turkey-cock, 
which he threw over his shoulder, holding him bj 
the tail ; and the cock making a great sputter ^th 
his feet, the book before-mentioned was, as thej 
thought, spurred out of the loop of the blanket he 
had about him : but he, taking no notice, run along 
the side of the house, and leapt, with the cock on 
his back, over a wall at the west-end of the garden, 
leaping a great deal higher than the wall. The 
girl, thinking this a good opportunity to get the 
book, told Mrs. Hattridge ; upon which she, with 
the girl and a little boy, went to the garden, and 
got the booky. without any harm done to it. At the 
same time they looked about the garden and fields 
adjoining, but could see nobody. There was no 
other person about the house at that time except 
children. A little after, the girl went to the window 
in the parlour, and looking out of the casement, 
saw the apparition again, with the turkey-cock 
lying on its back before him, he endeavouring to 
get his sword drawn to kill it, as she apprehended, 
but the cock got away. It then looked for the 
book in the loop of the blanket, and missing it, as 
she apprehended, threw away the blanket, and ran 
nimbly up and down upon the search for it. A 
little after, it came back with a club, and broke the 
glass of the side window in the parlour, and then 
went to the end window, through which the girl 
was looking, and pulled off the casement glass, (not 


leaving one whole quarry in it,) and left it lying on 
the south side of the garden. A little after, the 
girl ventured to look out of the broken window, and 
saw it as it were digging near the end of the house 
with the sword. She asked what he was doing ? 
He answered, ^ Making a grave/ 
" Girl For whom ? 

" Appar. For a corpse which will come out of 
this house very soon. 
''Girl Who will it be? 

" Appar, Til not tell you that yet. Is your master 
at home ? 
" Girl Yes. 

" Appar, How can you lie ? he is abroad, and is 
dead fourteen days ago. 

" Girl Of what sickness did he die ? 
" Appar, 111 not tell you that. 
" After this it went over the hedge, as if it had 
been a bird flying. Some persons of the neighbour- 
hood came in immediately after, and being told^ 
made a diligent search, but nothing could be seen. 
Thus it continued from eight in the morning till 
two or three in the afternoon, throwing^ a great 
many stones, turf, etc., in at the windows, to the 
great terror of those in the house.'' 

Not long after this old Mrs. Hattridge was taken 
ill, and died. But the spirit still haunted the house, 
and tormented a young lady, a relative of the family, 
who had come to live there. Mary Dunbar, for this 
was her name, was seized with a strange disease on 
the 28th of February, accompanied with fits, in the 
course of which she had the spectral vision, as it 
was called, of certain women of the neighbourhood, 



who she said, had sent thither the tormenting spirit. 
All the other symptoms usually exhibited by persons 
bewitched followed in due course, and several per- 
sons whom she accused in her trances were taken 
into custody and imprisoned at Carrickfergus to 
await their trial The jury brought them in guiltj, 
but they appear not to have been executed. 

^ ' ^ ~^. — - « 


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